Women in their mid-to-late 60s who break a hip are five times more likely to die within a year compared to women of the same age who didn’t break a hip.
This death rate, according to a study published in the latest Archives of Internal Medicine, is surprisingly higher than those seen among women in their 70s and 80s who broke a hip.
“You’d think a 65-to-69 year-old would be more able to bounce back from a hip fracture,” says Erin LeBlanc, a study author and investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, which led the study. But women in their 60s have a lower risk of dying from other causes than older women, so a hip fracture is more likely to translate into a higher mortality risk.
It has long been known that hip fractures are associated with an increased mortality rate in older women, but LeBlanc says it hasn’t been clear whether it’s from the hip fracture itself or an underlying health condition. So she and a team of researchers designed a study involving about 5,500 women to look more closely at the impact of hip fractures among women in certain age groups. The study used participants in a larger, federally-funded Study of Osteoporotic Fractures, which began in 1986 and enrolled 9,700 women age 65 and older to see how changes in bone density affects the risk of fractures as women age.
During a 20-year period there were 1,116 hip fractures. Researchers categorized the women with fractures by age and then matched them with 4,464 women of the same age who didn’t break a hip to serve as controls. The study also controlled for other underlying health conditions.
The study found that a hip fracture in women ages 70-79 doubled the risk of dying within a year. For women age 80 and older death rates were similar among those who broke a hip compared to those who didn’t. But for women 80 and older who were considered to be in good health, a hip fracture nearly triples the risk of dying within a year compared other healthy women in the same age group.
LeBlanc says the findings suggest the hip fracture increases the risk of dying. She says women can take steps to reduce the risk of hip fractures by getting screened for osteoporosis, making sure they get enough vitamin D and calcium.
LeBlanc said preventing falls is also important. Removing tripping hazards like small area rugs and improving lighting in the home can help, along with strength and balancing exercises.
Article published in Wall Street Journal By Jennifer Corbett Dooren