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Study finds older women’s risk of dying doubles in year following hip fracture

Sept. 27, 2011

By Patricia Nicholson

New research shows that for older women who break a hip, mortality risk doubles in the year following the fracture, compared to women with no fracture. However, for many women, risk of dying returns to normal after one year.

Hip fractures are a common injury in older women, and are associated with both disability and increased risk of death. Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente research centres in the U.S. wanted to find out if those risks were long-term or more temporary. Using health information on more than 5,500 women who participated in the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures, the researchers looked at mortality in hip fracture patients and women without fractures. All of the women were 65 or older, and were followed for an average of almost 15 years.

The results showed that during the year following their injury, the mortality rate among women who had a hip fracture was twice as high as women with no fracture: 16.9 per cent compared to 8.4 per cent.

The researchers also looked at mortality risk in the year following a hip fracture in different age groups. They found that hip fracture increased the odds of dying by five-fold in women ages 65-69 compared to women with no fracture. For women in their 70s, a hip fracture increased the odds of dying by 2.4 times. In women 80 years or older, hip fracture did not increase mortality risk, except in women who were in excellent health. In the subgroup of women over 80 years old who were in excellent health, mortality risk was almost tripled in the year following a hip fracture.

Risk later returned to normal in most age groups: in hip fracture patients in their 70s and those ages 80 and over, mortality risk after one year was comparable to women with no fracture. However, women ages 65 to 69 who had a fractured hip continued to have an increased risk of dying even 10 years after the injury, although the risk did decline.

The study findings suggest that for many women, risk of dying associated with breaking a hip is a short-term health risk that returns to normal after one year.

The study was published online in the Archives of Internal Medicine on Sept. 27, 2011.

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  • A publication of:
  • Women's College Hospital