New knee helps your heart

Here's another reason to get that knee replacement you've been debating: A new study presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons finds adults with osteoarthritis face lower odds of developing heart failure by having a total knee replacement.

The study did not show a direct cause and effect or prove definitively that a total knee replacement could improve cardiovascular health. However, the procedure does allow the recipient to exercise again, which can lead to better heart health.

And that's just one of the benefits of today's total knee replacement.

"These days, total knee replacement lasts a long time. After 20 years of implantation, 80 percent of new joints survive. That's better than cars, washing machines and refrigerators," says Dr. Donald Reilly, assistant clinical professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School.

That's due in part to improved materials and streamlined techniques.

Soda increases stroke risk

Pop. Soda. Cola. No matter what you call soft drinks, they're among the unhealthiest beverages in this country. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks have been linked with coronary artery disease and its risk factors, including obesity, high blood lipid levels, hypertension, and diabetes. And although low-calorie sodas have not been extensively studied, there's new information sugar-sweetened and diet soft drinks alike may increase the risk of stroke.

The finding comes from an analysis of two long-term studies, the Nurses' Health Study, which began in 1976 with 121,700 women, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which started in 1986 with 51,529 men. Every few years, participants in both studies complete questionnaires about their health and diet. This allows researchers to see relationships between food choices and medical conditions that arise over time.

What they found was a red flag: Sugar-sweetened and diet soft drinks alike were associated with a higher risk of stroke, particularly in women. The more sugar-sweetened soft drinks the women drank, the higher their risk of ischemic stroke. Even more alarming was the significant risk of hemorrhagic stroke with increasing amounts of diet soda consumed.

The number of hemorrhagic strokes that occurred in men was too small to draw a comparison with soda consumption.