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How Hip Surgery Can Up Your Stroke Risk

Posted Nov 26 2012 7:26am

Here’s a study out of the the Netherlands showing that your risk of stroke is well over 4 times higher after undergoing hip replacement surgery within the first two weeks after surgery. Stroke risk dropped over the next 6-12 weeks, but still remained significantly elevated.  This article talks a great deal about the controversy behind being on Aspirin to thin the blood to prevent strokes, but never goes into any reasons why stroke happens in the first place. 

I’ve written numerous times in the past that patients undergoing routine surgery such as hip procedures oright gastrointestinal operations are suddenly forced to sleep on their backs. Many people are preferential side or stomach sleepers, since sleeping on their backs can cause the tongue to fall back, predisposing to obstructed breathing and apneas, especially in REM sleep, when muscles are most relaxed. When you’re given narcotics for post-operative pain, this can diminish your drive to breathe, making things even worse. 

Many studies on sleep apnea have shown that you can have relatively normal numbers sleeping on your side or stomach during a sleep study, but increases dramatically when you’re on your back.  Notice that heart attacks and stroke happen more often during the early morning hours of the night, which is also when REM sleep dominates. This may be an overly simplistic explanation for increased risk for stroke after a hip procedure, but it has profound implications.

For those of you who stayed in the hospital for at least a few days after a surgical procedure, how well did you sleep?

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