Screening for osteoporosis prevents hip fractures in older adults

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have determined that screening for osteoporosis in men and women age 65 and older can prevent a large number of hip fractures, a debilitating, traumatic experience for 340,000 older adults annually.

The researchers found that using a machine to estimate bone density by measuring the tissues' ability to absorb X-rays was associated with a 36 percent reduction in hip fractures over six years compared with usual medical care.

The study, to be published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on Feb. 1, is a unique look at the effects of screening for osteoporosis in a general population, studying 3,107 people from the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). The CHS was designed to determine risk factors for cardiovascular disease in community-dwelling, older adults.

"Although some groups recommend screening for osteoporosis, no study had proven that screening prevents fractures. This study provides new evidence for the effectiveness of osteoporosis screening," says study lead investigator Lisa Kern, M.D., M.P.H., a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine at the time of the study. Kern is now an assistant professor at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

"Our hope is that our study can provide a foundation on which physicians can base their medical practices regarding screening for osteoporosis, and that it can also be relevant to groups that are drafting clinical guidelines on screening for osteoporosis," says co-investigator, Neil Powe, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., director of Hopkins' Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research.

According to Powe, there are two approaches to help prevent osteoporosis-related fractures. One is to promote measures that can prevent the disease itself via adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, weight-bearing physical activity, and elimination of the use of tobacco and alcohol. The second ap

Contact: John Lazarou
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions

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