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Simple questions identify increased risk of hip fracture

Every fourth woman will suffer from hip fracture at some point in their life, many of which could be prevented. Four simple questions can help personnel in the primary health care service identify women at increased risk. This is shown by a doctoral thesis presented at the Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University in Sweden.

Nearly 18,000 Swedes undergo surgery for a fractured hip each year. Nearly all of these are elderly women.

"A fractured hip is a disability, it causes pain, it increases the patient's need of help, and it causes increased costs for society. It is important to identify women at a higher risk of fracture, such that we can take preventative measures", says district physician Daniel Albertsson.

The study has been carried out at the research and development centre, FoU-centrum, that is part of the county administration in Kronoberg County. It included 1,248 women older than 70 years who answered questions about their risk of fracturing a hip. The women were followed up for two years, and those who suffered hip fracture were identified.

The results show that four simple questions can be used to assess the fracture risk. These questions concern advanced age, low weight, previous fractures, and a difficulty in rising from seated.

"We could see that over 80% of the women who fracture a hip have at least two of these risk factors. Thus, just a few simple questions could help the personnel at the local health centre identify women who were at a high risk, before the fracture occurs", says Daniel Albertsson.

The thesis also shows that women at risk can increase their mobility by simple exercise at home or in a group. Risk features in the women's homes were removed. Women with a previous fracture and low bone density (measured at the heel) were given supplements of vitamin D and calcium, and this appeared to improve their mobility.

"The number of falls decreased and the mobility increased in the experimental group among women at a high risk of hip fracture. There were only two hip fractures in this group, while there were 11 in the control region, which was twice as large," says Daniel Albertsson.

Contact for more information:
Daniel Albertsson, district physician, telephone: +46 470 586262, +46 70 546 6059, e-mail:

Eva Pettersson-Lindberg, Head of Department, FoU-centrum Landstinget Kronoberg, telephone: +46 470 586395, +46 70 984 4452

Elin Lindström | idw
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