The risk of fracture in postmenopausal women can be predicted by history of falls, according to new findings from the Kuopio Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention Study (OSTPRE) at the University of Eastern Finland.
Published in the journal Osteoporosis International, the study is the first to follow up on the association between history of falls and subsequent fractures.
Falls in the elderly are common, resulting in fractures and other serious health consequences.
In people aged 65 years and above, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death and hospitalisation.
Fall-induced injuries cause a substantial economic burden worldwide.
Conducted at the university and Kuopio University Hospital, the study comprised 8,744 women whose mean age at the beginning of the study was approximately 62 years.
The study started in 1999 with an enquiry asking the study participants about their history of falls in the preceding 12 months.
The researchers wanted to know how many times the study participants had fallen, what had caused the falls and how severe the falls had been, i.e. did they lead to injuries that required treatment.
A follow-up enquiry was conducted in 2004, asking the study participants about any fractures they had suffered during the previous five years.
The self-reported fractures were confirmed from medical records.
Nearly one in five women reported a fall during the initial preceding 12 months.
The risk of fracture was 41% greater in women who had reported a fall, in comparison to those who hadn’t.
Slip falls were associated with a greater risk of subsequent fracture than falls caused by other reasons.
Furthermore, falls that led to injuries that required treatment, predicted future fractures: the risk of a fracture was 64% higher in women who had experienced an injurious fall.
In particular, earlier injurious falls predicted other fractures, compared to falls typically associated with osteoporosis.
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