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15-01-2012 | Bone health | Article

Height loss predicts fracture risk in older women


Free abstract

MedWire News: Measuring height loss in older women could help predict future fracture risk, study findings suggest.

Teresa Hillier (Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, Oregon, USA) and colleagues found that women aged 65 years and older who had lost more than 5 cm in height over the previous 15 years had around a 50% increased risk for hip fracture, nonspine fracture, and mortality over the next 5 years compared with those who lost less height.

"As height measurements are relatively easy and inexpensive to obtain in any clinical setting, our results suggest that height loss (>5 cm) in older women is a simple yet robust measured predictor of increased fracture risk," comment the authors.

Using data from 3124 female participants (aged ≥65 years) of the Study of Osteoporotic Fracture (SOF), Hillier and team assessed whether height loss predicts fracture risk, independent of vertebral fracture and bone mineral density.

Height change was measured between year 0 (1986-1988) and year 15 (2002-2004) in all women. After the year 15 exam, participants were contacted every 4 months to ascertain incident hip, nonspine fractures, and mortality for a mean follow-up period of 5.2 years.

After adjusting for age, weight, smoking, walking for exercise, self-reported health, vertebral fracture, and bone mineral density, height loss of more than 5 cm was associated with a 50%, 48%, and 45% increased risk for hip fracture, nonspine fracture, and mortality, respectively, compared with those who had height loss of 5 cm or less.

Sensitivity analysis of the whole SOF cohort (n=9677), which used self-reported height in earlier adulthood (age 25 years), demonstrated similar results. "These findings suggest that assessing height loss (by asking self-reported early adult height) is valuable, even when measuring an older woman's height for the first time," write the authors.

They conclude: "Because undertreatment of osteoporosis is widely documented, even with the availability of effective medications, height loss assessment may prove to be another avenue of increasing osteoporosis awareness for further evaluation that could be cost-effective and readily applied in the clinic setting."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Nikki Withers

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