It is commonly believed that fractures that occur in older adults are mainly caused by osteoporosis, that patients at high risk can be identified via screening and that the risk is then responsive to bone-targeted treatment and medications. Isn’t that what you thought as well? If an older person falls and breaks a bone, they must have osteoporosis, which weakened their bones and caused the fall. Well this is now being disputed.
According to the new study referenced above, while most fracture patients have fallen, they actually do not have osteoporosis. As people age and tend to become frail, their likelihood of falling increases. So it isn’t the osteoporosis that caused the fall as we have been led to believe. It is the frailty as a result of aging.
Furthermore, the study shows the screening currently available doesn’t effectively identify those people who are most likely to sustain a fracture and some of those who have a high risk score will never actually break a bone.
Finally those pharmaceutical drugs advertised on TV to prevent bone loss and hip fractures not only have dangerous side effects, but have not been shown to be effective in preventing hip fractures in real life studies.
The bottom line of this study is that falling and not fragile bones is the primary reason why fractures occur. Since it is a statistical fact that the older you get the more often you fall, and since the older you get the less dense your bones become, it is easy to confuse the lower bone mineral density as a “cause” and not just an “association” with increased fracture risk.
What do you think about the results of this study?
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