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Simple swaps key to preventing hip fractures


Michelle Wisbey


8/09/2023 11:14:37 AM

From diet shifts to limiting alcohol, small changes can have an exponential impact on increasing bone density, research has revealed.

Simple swaps key to preventing hip fractures
Moderate physical activity is among the small changes researchers found had a disproportionate positive impact.

A fractured hip can prove deadly for many older Australians, but it takes just a few simple swaps to dramatically decrease the chance of injury, a new study found.
 
Currently, around 37% of men and 20% of women die within one year of a hip fracture, irrelevant of an osteoporosis diagnosis.
 
To combat this, a new University of Technology Sydney (UTS) study found a community wide commitment to making small changes has a disproportionately positive impact on injury prevention.
 
‘Our study suggests that population strategies focused on reducing risk in those at low or moderate risk are likely to be more effective than strategies just focused on high-risk individuals,’ researchers concluded.
 
The study likened the preventive approach to riding in a car.
 
‘Wearing a seatbelt might bring little benefit to an individual because the probability of having a car accident is very low, but we know this simple action does save lives in the community,’ researchers said.
 
Published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, UTS researchers analysed data from the Dubbo Osteoporosis Epidemiology Study, one of the longest running studies of the condition in the world.
 
In the study, more than 3000 individuals aged 60 and older were tracked over time for fracture incidence and risk factors.
 
Between the first cohort in 1988–92 and the second in 1999–2001, bone mineral density increased by 3%.
 
Despite this relatively small change, it led to a huge 45% decrease in hip fractures within the group.
 
World-leading osteoporosis researcher and UTS Professor Tuan Nguyen spearheaded the study, saying it proves small changes are ‘actually worth it’ when it comes to bone health.
 
‘The sad reality is that about 50–60% of hip fracture patients do not receive proper treatment. It’s a crisis, it’s absolutely a crisis,’ Dr Nguyen told newsGP.
 
‘We have strong and good evidence showing that treatment is simple, and we can save their lives.’
 
Those small changes included motivating patients to stop smoking, maintain moderate physical activity, and eat a healthy diet including vitamin D and dietary calcium.
 
‘At the moment there are about 12% of Australians who are daily smokers and if all of them stopped smoking now they can drop the risk of fracture by about 20%, which is a huge amount,’ Dr Nguyen said.
 
‘Doctors can also prevent accidents with them, talk to them about little things they can do for themselves such as a good diet or limiting alcohol.
 
‘Little things can make a significant contribution to the community.’
 
Most hip fractures occur in people aged 65 years and over, with an average age of 82 years across Australia.
 
Around 90% of those cases in the elderly are a result of a fall.
 
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