MONDAY, Aug. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The risk for cardiovascular deaths is increased among patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis, according to a study published in the June issue of Osteoarthritis & Cartilage.

Aleksandra Turkiewicz, Ph.D., from Lund University in Sweden, and colleagues estimated cause-specific mortality in patients with osteoarthritis compared to the general population in southern Sweden. All residents aged 45 to 84 years in 2003 were included, and those diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the peripheral joints between 1998 and 2003 were identified; all residents were followed from 2004 through 2014. The underlying cause of death was classified from death certificates.

The researchers found that among 469,177 residents, there were 15,901 patients with prevalent doctor-diagnosed osteoarthritis in the knee, 9,347 in the hip, 4,004 in the hand, and 5,447 in other peripheral joints. For most causes of death, there was no increased mortality in osteoarthritis patients, with hazard ratios close to 1. This finding was similar for men and women. The hazard ratios for cardiovascular deaths were nonproportional and increased to 1.19 and 1.13 for knee and hip osteoarthritis, respectively, during nine to 11 years of follow-up, mainly due to increased mortality from chronic ischemic heart diseases and heart failure.

“Considering that regular exercise is an effective but underused treatment for knee and hip osteoarthritis and has a potential for improved mobility and cardiovascular health, our results reinforce the need for better implementation of osteoarthritis treatment guidelines,” the authors write.

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