HONG KONG (Reuters) - People over 60 years old who have had a fracture because of reduced bone density, or osteoporosis, face a higher risk of death over the next 10 years, a study in Australia has found.
Osteoporosis is common in people over 60 years old and particularly after menopause and it results in an increased risk of fracture. It can however be prevented with lifestyle changes, including exercise, preventing falls, and drugs.
In the Australian study, published in the Journal of American Medical Association, researchers tracked for up to 18 years 2,245 women and 1,760 men who suffered osteoporotic fractures.
“Premature mortality was observed across all age groups following hip, vertebral and major fractures for five years post-fracture except for minor fractures, where it was only apparent in the elderly (more than 75 years old),” they wrote.
“After five years, the mortality risk decreased, with hip fracture-associated mortality remaining elevated for up to 10 years.”
Fractures of the hip can lead to decreased mobility and complications such as deep vein thrombosis and blockages in arteries carrying blood from the heart to the lungs.
The study also warned against neglecting minor fractures.
“Non-hip, non-vertebral fractures ... not only constituted almost 50 percent of the fractures studied, but also were associated with 29 percent of the premature mortality ... given these findings, more attention should be given to non-hip, non-vertebral fractures.
“Most importantly, a subsequent fracture again resulted in an elevated mortality risk for a further five years,” they said.
Osteoporotic fractures represent a growing public health problem in many countries and they will only become more prevalent as people live longer all over the world.
Multiple studies have shown that weight bearing, aerobic exercise can maintain or increase bone mineral density, particularly in postmenopausal women. Many experts also recommend quitting smoking and reducing alcohol consumption to prevent osteoporosis.
Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Jeremy Laurence