Hip fracture ups women's risk of early death

Breaking hip at age 70 doubles risk of dying within a year, study finds. Older women who break a hip are more likely than others to die within a year because of the fracture, not an underlying health condition, a new study finds.

"Our study suggests that it is the hip fracture, and not just poor health, that puts these women at higher risk of dying," said study author, Dr Teresa Hillier, a senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.

"We also found women are at the highest risk of dying within the first three months after a hip fracture, which leads us to hypothesise that hospitalisation, surgery and immobility lead to other complications that ultimately result in their death," she wrote in a Kaiser Permanente news release.

As part of a larger ongoing study involving nearly 10,000 women aged 65 and older, researchers followed 1,116 women who suffered hip fractures and compared them to nearly 4,500 similar women who didn't break a hip.

The study, published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that women between the ages of 65 and 69 who break a hip are five times more likely to die within a year than their peers who didn't suffer a fracture.

Risk factors

Women in their 70s had double the risk of dying within a year after breaking a hip, the researchers found. Women aged 80 and older had the same risk of dying within the year regardless of whether or not they broke a hip.

 For women in their 80s who were in excellent health, however, a hip fracture nearly tripled their risk of dying within a year.

Among women who broke a hip, more than half of the short-term deaths occurred within three months after the broken hip, and nearly 75% occurred within six months, the investigators found.

Experts at the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommend that all women over the age of 65 and those who may also be at greater risk for osteoporosis (thinning or weakening of the bone) have a bone density scan to determine if they are at greater risk for fractures.

 Low body weight, smoking or long-term steroid use are associated with increased risk of osteoporosis.

The experts also offered the following tips to help prevent hip fractures:

  • Consume enough calcium and vitamin D.
  • Perform weight-bearing and balancing exercises.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Fall-proof your home.

"This study is a wake-up call that the first year after a hip fracture is a critical time for all elderly women, but especially for younger women, ages 65 to 69, who face a much higher death rate compared to their peers," added study lead author Dr. Erin S. LeBlanc, an investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, in the news release.

"We need to do more to prevent hip fractures from occurring, and we need to study how best to care for women after fracture to prevent these deaths," LeBlanc said. The US National Institutes of Health funded the study.

 (HealthDay, Mary Elizabeth Dallas, September 2011)

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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