Earlier falls predict subsequent fractures in postmenopausal women

The risk of fracture in postmenopausal women can be predicted by history of falls, according to new findings from the Kuopio Osteoporosis Risk Factor and Prevention Study (OSTPRE) at the University of Eastern Finland. Published in Osteoporosis International, the study is the first to follow up on the association between history of falls and subsequent fractures.

Falls in the elderly are common, resulting in fractures and other serious health consequences. In people aged 65 years or over, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death and hospitalisation. Fall-induced injuries cause a substantial economic burden worldwide.

Conducted at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, the study comprised 8,744 women whose mean age at the beginning of the study was approximately 62 years. The study started in 1999 with an enquiry asking the study participants about their history of falls in the preceding 12 months. The researchers wanted to know how many times the study participants had fallen, what had caused the falls and how severe the falls had been; i.e., did they lead to injuries that required treatment. A follow-up enquiry was conducted in 2004, asking the study participants about any fractures they had suffered during the five-year follow-up. The self-reported fractures were confirmed from medical records.

Nearly one in five women reported a fall during the preceding 12 months. The risk of fracture was 41% greater in women who had reported a fall in comparison to those who hadn’t. Slip falls were associated with a greater risk of subsequent fracture than falls caused by other reasons. Furthermore, injurious falls predicted future fractures: the risk of fracture was 64% higher in women who had experienced an injurious fall. In particular, earlier injurious falls predicted other fractures than those typically associated with osteoporosis.

For further information, please contact:

Professor Heikki Kröger, tel. +358 44 7172602, heikki.kroger (at) kuh.fi

Research article:

N. Afrin, R. Sund, R. Honkanen, H. Koivumaa-Honkanen, T. Rikkonen, L. Williams, H. Kröger. A fall in the previous 12 months predicts fracture in the subsequent 5 years in postmenopausal women. Osteoporosis International, published 19 December 2019. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-019-05255-5

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The University of Eastern Finland, UEF, is one of the largest universities in Finland. The activities of the UEF underscore multidisciplinarity, and the university is especially strong in research related to forests and the environment, health and well-being, and new technologies and materials. The UEF offers teaching in more than 100 major subjects. In addition to the high standard of teaching, the university offers its students a modern study environment, which is under constant development. The university comprises four faculties: the Philosophical Faculty, the Faculty of Science and Forestry, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. The university’s campuses are located in the heart of beautiful eastern Finland in Joensuu, Kuopio and Savonlinna. The UEF is home to approximately 15 000 students and nearly 2 800 members of staff.

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