Among women, osteoporotic hip fracture dramatically increases risk of death within one year

It is well established that hip fractures can increase mortality among osteoporosis patients, but a new study conducted in Oregon found that this injury puts elderly women at a much greater risk of death within the year following the fracture.

Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Oregon, announced that hip fractures quintuple the short-term risk of death among women between the ages of 65 and 69.

Likewise, the likelihood of dying within one year approximately doubled for female participants aged 70 to 79 who broke a hip.

The study also addressed health level, which plays an increasing role in short-term risk of death as the age of hip-fracture patients increases. As an example, the team noted that for all participants over age 80, a hip fracture did not significantly affect this risk. However, for those in relatively good health, the likelihood of dying within the year approximately tripled.

The authors attributed this effect to the fact that women over 80, especially those who suffer from conditions like osteoporosis or heart disease, already have a higher yearly mortality rate.

Thus, hip fractures were found to most seriously affect volunteers in their 60s and 70s, as well as relatively hale women in their 80s and 90s.

Researchers noted a curious trend among deaths within one year of such an injury.

"We...found women are at the highest risk of dying within the first three months after hip fracture, which leads us to hypothesize that hospitalization, surgery and immobility lead to other complications that ultimately result in their death," co-author Teresa Hillier wrote.

She added that the effect that hip fractures had on healthy women over 80 suggests that it is the hip fracture itself, not merely poor health, that contributes to an early death.

A broken hip is one of the most common injuries associated with osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) tallies nearly 300,000 bone-loss-related hip fractures each year.

In all, the organization estimates that 24 percent of osteoporotic hip fracture patients over the age of 50 will die within one year of the injury.

Furthermore, since women are at an especially high risk of osteoporosis, they are disproportionately affected by fractures. The NOF states that one half of all women with osteoporosis will experience a fracture in their remaining lifetime, compared to one in four men.