Broken bones increase death risk

The increased risk of dying after older adults break a bone is real, long-lasting and it’s not limited to hip fractures, according to the latest research.

Broken bones among older people increase their risk of death for up to 10 years, according to a new study.

Older people with broken bones face a higher risk of death, and that risk can stay elevated for years. 

Hip fractures are known to increase the mortality risk among older people. This study was able to identify how long the mortality risk lasts for different types of fractures.

Non-hip fractures contribute to more than two-thirds of all fragility fractures and can include fractures of the femur, pelvis, clavicle or lower leg.

“A fracture is the starting point for much wider health issues that persist long after the fracture has healed and can ultimately result in earlier death,” said Dr Jacqueline Center of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.

“We tracked the increased risk of death for fractures in different bones and found that they vary. The heightened risk can last for over a decade after a hip fracture, and for most other fractures (apart from distal or minor fractures), the increased risk is for about five years.”

The registry-based follow-up study included all individuals in Denmark over the age of 50 who first experienced fragility fractures in 2001 and were followed up to 10 years for their mortality risk.

In the year after breaking a hip, men faced a 33 per cent higher risk of death and women had a 20 per cent higher risk.

For femur or pelvic fractures, the one-year excess mortality was between 20 per cent and 25 per cent.

A significant risk of death was still observed 10 years after a person broke a hip, and approximately five years following non-hip fractures.

“Our findings emphasise just how crucial early intervention is,” Dr Center said.

“We need to understand the risk of breaking a bone before the fracture happens and treat that individual accordingly. While intervention after the first fracture is critical, we also need to diagnose those at risk of breaking bones before these major health impacts have occurred.”

Have you suffered a broken bone recently? How did it happen?

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Written by Ben

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