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Death Rate After Hip, Knee Replacements Has Dropped

Experts credit advances in post-surgical care for lower risk

continued...

Lalmohamed said there's still a need for similar studies in other countries. But he also said candidates for joint replacements can be reassured by his team's findings.

Iorio agreed. "Clearly, patients can take heart," he said. "This operation is safer than it was 20 years ago, and it's very effective."

Iorio said, however, that some surgeons and hospitals are better than others. In general, surgeons and centers with the most experience in hip and knee replacements have better results than those who do fewer procedures.

And, of course, each patient is different, Iorio said. An individual's overall health -- rather than age alone -- is vital. But, he added, it's also possible to manage some of the health issues that can increase the risks of joint-replacement surgery. Patients can quit smoking or lose excess weight, for example.

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