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Ask Oz and Roizen: Unreported Complementary Medicines and Hip Replacement Durability

Ask Oz and Roizen: Unreported Complementary Medicines and Hip Replacement Durability

See what the experts have to say regarding these important health topics.

Q: I’ve been taking blood pressure meds for two years and at my last check-up I mentioned to my doc that I was also taking potassium supplements to avoid cramping and using turmeric pills to ease joint pain. He pretty much read me the riot act for not saying something sooner. I didn’t think those add-ons were such a big deal. Did he overreact? — Sam B., Columbus, OH

A: He did not overreact, and he may have prevented you from damaging your liver, kidneys and cardiovascular system. Potassium in high doses can cause heart palpitations and high doses of turmeric can lower blood pressure—dangerously adding to the effect of the antihypertensive medication you are taking. In addition, some turmeric pills from Asia have been found to have high doses of toxic metals like lead and cadmium as well as pesticide residues in them—and there’s no way to know which are safe.

But you’re not alone in your oversight. A recent meta-study out of Sidney, Australia, found that about one out of three patients using what researchers called “complementary medicines” don’t tell their docs about everything they have decided to take. Seems most folks believe complementary meds (CM), including supplements and herbal medicines, won’t interfere with conventional treatment. Patients also said they didn’t think it mattered because they weren’t taking their CMs regularly. Or they kept quiet because they’d previously had a negative response from other docs.

And even the 67 percent of folks who said they knew they should tell their docs—well, they don’t always remember to.

Under reporting of meds is a problem worldwide and with less face time being reported between docs and patients, it’s even more important that you be your own healthcare advocate. So, to get the best care possible, discuss the CM you take or want to take with your doc. You can also go online to a site Dr. Mike advises, PersonaNutrition.com, or talk with your pharmacist to learn about interactions between CM and FDA-approved medications.

Q: I’m 67 and getting a total hip replacement—but I worry that when I’m in my 80s I might have to go through this all again, with a tougher recovery. What can I do to help make sure the implant lasts me a lifetime? — Katie D., Brookings, SD

A: The benefits of hip replacement can be amazing—mobility is restored and pain can vanish. However, how long your implant lasts will depend on your age when the joint is replaced, the reason for the replacement (injury versus osteoporosis, for example), your overall health and the type of replacement. In the US, four types are approved—and none are metal on metal anymore. They’re either metal or ceramic on plastic or a plastic lining, ceramic on metal or ceramic on ceramic.

A 2017 study in The Lancet reported that a 20-year follow-up of 63,158 people who had total hip replacements between January 1, 1991 and August 10, 2011 showed the 10-year implant survival rate for the hip was almost 96 percent and the 20-year rate was 85 percent. Another paper in The Lancet found that surgeons can now expect “a hip replacement to last 25 years in around 58 percent of patients,” although some data sources indicated more than 76 percent lasted that long.

So, you want to help protect your replacement, follow these tips:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Excess pounds speed wear and tear of replacement parts.
  2. If replacement is due to an illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis, make sure to get ongoing treatment for that condition, including medication.
  3. Avoid exercise, such as running, that can damage the implant. Walking, swimming, golf, hiking, biking, dancing and other low-impact sports are good alternatives.
  4. And, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, see your orthopedic surgeon periodically for routine follow-up exams and x-rays, even if your hip replacement seems to be doing fine.
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