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08-11-2010 | Bone health | Article

Cardiovascular disease linked to increased fracture risk in women


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MedWire News: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is associated with an increased risk for major osteoporotic fractures among women aged 50 years and older, Australian researchers report.

"This increase in the risk of fracture is due to higher prevalence of the well-established fracture risk factors among women with CVD, such as previous fracture, glucocorticoid use, and secondary osteoporosis," remark Phillip Sambrook (Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney) and colleagues.

Osteoporosis and CVD share many common risk factors such as smoking, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use, and hyperthyroidism, note the researchers.

To further explore the relationship between these diseases, they compared the risk for fracture between women with (n=6219) and without (n=10,814) CVD using the World Health Organization Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX).

The women - who were recruited by 1248 primary care practitioners over a 12-month period - had a mean age of 71.8 years.

Sambrook and team found that, after adjustment for age, body mass index, current smoking, and alcohol use, the 10-year probability for a major osteoporotic fracture was significantly higher among women with CVD, compared with women without CVD, at 14.3% versus 13.8%, respectively.

Women with CVD were also 23% more likely to be at high risk for fracture, defined as a 10-year probability of 20% or more, than women without CVD.

However, women with CVD were also more likely to report a previous fracture, to have secondary osteoporosis, and to use glucocorticoids - all of which are bone-specific risk-factors - than women without CVD.

In spite of the increased fracture risk, fewer women with CVD reported use of bone-related medications than women without CVD, at 50.2% versus 56.9%, respectively.

This may suggest that primary care physicians are reluctant to evaluate skeletal risk when they assess CVD risk, the researchers speculate.

"The reasons for this apparent reluctance should be determined and appropriate education measures put in place since the primary care setting is the best one to address these two important public health problems," they conclude in the journal Calcified Tissue International.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Laura Dean

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