Patients who undergo total hip replacement have an elevated risk for stroke within the first two weeks after surgery, according to a new study. Researchers reviewed records of 66,583 Danish hip-replacement patients—mostly women with an average age of 72—and found they had a 4.7-times increased risk of ischemic stroke (when blood flow to the brain is blocked) and a 4.4-times increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding into the brain) two weeks post-surgery.

Risk dropped steadily afterward. Even so, the patients still had a significantly elevated risk for ischemic stroke six weeks later and for hemorrhagic stroke 12 weeks later. It took a year for their risk to return to that of someone who didn't undergo total hip replacement.

Patients who had been taking a daily aspirin before surgery, however, had a 70 percent lower ischemic stroke risk during the first six weeks after surgery, although aspirin therapy had no effect on hemorrhagic stroke risk.

If you're considering hip replacement, carefully weigh the surgery's benefits, such as reducing pain and improving quality of life, with its stroke risks—and discuss preoperative aspirin therapy with your doctor.

Source: Stroke, published online 11/12; Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 15 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 15 Jul 2013