Older women who break a hip maybe five times more likely to die within a year than their healthy-hipped peers, according to new research.
A Kaiser Permanente study of nearly 10,000 women finds that for women ages 65-69 a hip fracture boosts the risk of dying within a year by five times. It doubles the risk of early death for women ages 70-79. The question becomes: Why does this increased death risk exist?
In a video interview, Erin LeBlanc, MD, MPH, the lead author of the study offered some insight into why breaking a hip is so dangerous. According to her, the risk lies in the forced immobility caused by a hip fracture.
"Any time you're immobile, you're more at risk for infections, blood clotting, your nutrition is going to go down because you're not feeling well, and that puts the body in a weaker spot to be able to fight infections or fight any sort of illness that might come on," she says.
Dr. LeBlanc feels that this study is a "wake-up call," alerting people to the danger of hip fractures. She hopes that it will encourage doctors and their elderly patients to be more proactive with regards to preventing hip fractures and, if that fails, improving post-fracture care.
While this is not the first study to indicate that women who break their hip have an increased risk of short-term death, it is the first study to fully control for underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. This is important because these ailments can have significant impact on death risk and thus would have skewed the results if they had not been taken out the equation.