Broken bones tied to increased risk of death for up to 10 years

The increased risk of dying after older adults break a bone is real.

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?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    10th Sep 2018
    I ALMOST had a fall this morning. I was walking along the inner-city Canberra street, wearing sensible walking shoes and using my walking stick. But the toe of my shoe caught on a paver and I nearly fell. My arms were full of parcels but I managed to save myself by getting my walking stick to stop me. OMG, it gave me a terrible fright. I try not to have too much to carry, but had been to the post office and collected 2 bulky packages. I'll know in future to collect them over 2 days.
    10th Sep 2018
    And there is the scam we have been fed about milk being a good source of calcium which is essential for healthy teeth and bones. I know many people who have drunk milk all their lives yet in their 70s have broken hips and legs when they fell.

    The dairy industry should be saying milk is OK so far as calcium goes but we all need magnesium and a host of antioxidants from other good food sources if we want healthy teeth and bones into old age.

    They should also admit that milk still contains casein (milk protein) and this binds particular antioxidants (anthocyanins) making them unavailable so never put coloured berries and other fruits in yoghurt or smoothies or serve them with cream or ice cream. These are anti-nutritional and will not help bone strength either.

    And lastly, we need to be lifting weights even as we age or bone density will diminish as growth hormones and testosterone levels drop over time.

    Broken bones are a killer for the elderly so be prepared to stay healthy through a little research and exercise.
    12th Sep 2018
    Bone density scans are free for people over 70. They can obviously advise if someone has osteopenia (a precursor for osteoporosis) or osteoporosis and give you the opportunity to do something to improve bone density eg, weight lifting exercises, resistance exercises, medication such as a twice yearly Prolia injection. I had a bone density score which indicated oteopenia 2 years ago, had one injection so far and regularly too calcium & vitamin D capsules. My bone density is normal at present.

    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles