Study examines strategies for reducing hip fractures

Monday, 04 September, 2023

Study examines strategies for reducing hip fractures

A study by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has examined how bone-strengthening exercises could lead to a decrease in hip fractures, including for those outside of the high-risk category.

The study was spearheaded by the Australian university’s Professor Tuan Nguyen, a researcher in osteoporosis, who said it was important to take measures to improve bone health, regardless of an osteoporosis diagnosis.

“Osteoporosis is a disease characterised by weak and brittle bones caused by bone loss. Osteoporotic individuals have the highest risk of a hip fracture … However, the majority of hip fractures occur in people who do not have osteoporosis, so it is important for everyone, especially the elderly, to take action to improve their bone health. Bone mineral density is modifiable, and even small improvements reduce the risk of a fracture.”

The study ‘Prevention of hip fractures: trade-off between minor benefits to individuals and large benefits to the community’ was recently published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, with co-authors from The Garvan Institute of Medical Research and UNSW Sydney. In this, researchers analysed data from the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study, which included more than 3000 individuals over 60 years of age, who have been tracked over time for fracture incidence and risk factors.

The study found that between the first cohort in 1988–92 and the second in 1999–2001, bone mineral density increased by 3%. During the same period, there was a 45% decrease in hip fractures, a decline typically associated with a 10% rise in bone mineral density.

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Epidemiologist and first author Dr Thach Tran said the study findings will be of interest to public health policymakers and medical professionals, as well as individuals who want to reduce their risk of a hip fracture.

“Our study suggests that population strategies focused on reducing risk in those at low or moderate risk are likely to be more effective than strategies just focused on high-risk individuals,” he said.

“The findings also imply that the categorisation of bone mineral density into osteoporosis or non-osteoporosis based on an arbitrary threshold is not an optimal approach for identifying people at high risk of fracture.”

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