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50+: Live Better, Longer

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11 Factors Help ID Hip Fracture Risk

Researchers Design Survey to Predict Fracture Risk in Older Women
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 27, 2007 -- A new diagnostic model could help identify older women at risk for hip fractures, even when those women show little evidence of osteoporosis.

Bone density scanning is the best single test for identifying hip fracture risk in older people. But by some estimates, more than half of hip fractures occur among those who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for osteoporosis.

In an effort to address this, University of California at Davis researcher John Robbins, MD, and colleagues developed an 11-question survey designed to predict a postmenopausal (aged 50-79) woman's five-year risk of suffering a hip fracture. They did this by evaluating data from almost 95,000 older women participating in the Women's Health Initiative, an ongoing national health study.

The survey is available in the form of an Internet calculator, which can be found at the web site of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The factors evaluated in the calculator to predict risk of hip fracture within five years were:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Race/ethnic group
  • General health
  • Physical activity
  • Personal history of a fracture at age 55 or older
  • Parent history of a fracture after age 40
  • Current smoking
  • Current corticosteroid use
  • Treated diabetes

The study is published in the Nov. 28 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Bone density scanning is important, but that is just one dimension of hip fracture risk," Robbins tells WebMD. "About half of fractures can be explained by low bone density and about half cannot. That is why we need other ways to evaluate risk."

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