SoCal Study Says Protective Measures Could Save Your Hip

PASADENA, Calif. -- Proactive measures can reduce hip fracture rates by an average of 37.2 percent -- and as much as 50 percent -- among those at risk, according to a study released Tuesday by Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

Billed as the largest study of its kind, the five-year effort tracked more than 625,000 male and female patients over the age of 50 in Southern California who had specific risk factors for osteoporosis and/or hip fractures.

"One-half of all women and one-third of all men will sustain a fragility fracture in their lifetime," said the study's lead author, Dr. Richard M. Dell, an orthopedic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center.

"The mortality rate due to osteoporosis-related fractures is greater than the rates for breast cancer and cervical cancer combined, yet it's a misconception that nothing can be done to prevent or treat osteoporosis," he said.

"It is possible to achieve at least a 25 percent reduction in the hip fracture rate in the United States if a more active role is taken by all orthopedic surgeons in osteoporosis disease management," Dell said.

Participating physicians in the study implemented a number of initiatives, including increasing the use of bone density test and anti-osteoporosis medications; adding osteoporosis education and home health programs; and standardizing the practice guidelines for osteoporosis management.

"Significant improvements in hip fracture rates are achievable wherever orthopedic surgeons and treatment teams are willing to take a more active role in osteoporosis disease management," Dell said.

More than 300,000 hip fractures are reported annually in the United States. Twenty-four percent of patients end up in a nursing home, 50 percent never reach their functional capacity, and 25 percent of those with a hip fracture die in the first year after the injury, according to Kaiser Permanente officials.

The study was published online Monday by The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, a peer-reviewed journal.

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