Scientists tabulate osteoporosis risk factors in aging fracture patients

Among aging patients who are admitted for fractures, more than a quarter can be found to have previously undiagnosed health conditions that contribute to the onset of osteoporosis, according to a study conducted in the Netherlands.

Research appearing in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that 26.5 percent of fracture sufferers age 50 or older presented with osteoporosis-related factors that had not previously been noticed by physicians.

A significant fraction of these factors involved insufficient levels of vital nutrients. The team, who primarily hailed from the VieCuri Medisch Centrum voor Noord-Limburg, determined that among people who were found to have previously undiagnosed risk factors (PURFs), 64 percent had low levels of vitamin D.

In another extreme discovery, researchers found that an even more prevalent risk factor was calcium insufficiency, which 91 percent of participants with PURFs had.

Among previously diagnosed risk factors (PDRFs) for osteoporosis, the Dutch group pointed to monoclonal proteinemia, kidney insufficiency, hyperparathyroidism, hyperthyroidism and male hypogonadism. The most common PDRF found within the group was primary and secondary hyperparathyroidism, which accounted for more than 13 percent of all PDRFs.

Researchers suggested that all individuals over the age of 50 who suffer from fractures should be screened for insufficiencies of vitamin D and calcium, since these risk factors for osteoporosis overwhelmingly appeared in patients who were unaware of having them.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that adults age 50 or older consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day, as well as up to 1,000 international units of vitamin D.

The Dutch scientists also noted that the most common PURFs, those of nutrient insufficiency, appeared in almost every age category and health level.

"A remarkable finding was that newly diagnosed contributors to [osteoporosis], serum 25(OH)D less than 50 nmol/liter and calcium intake less than 1200 mg/d were found in both sexes, at all ages, after all fractures...and at any level of BMD," the group wrote.

"The clinical implication is that all patients at the time of a clinical vertebral or nonvertebral fracture should be evaluated for...adequate calcium intake and vitamin D status,"  wrote the researchers.