Fracture risks among elderly rise after hospital visits

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People in their 70s who were hospitalized showed a threefold increase in the risk of bone fractures during the year following admission, according to a new report.

Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco enlisted the help of 3,075 healthy seniors between the ages of 70 and 79 for their study. After an average of 6.6 years, researchers found that two-thirds of the group had been admitted to the hospital and one-quarter of those had been admitted more than three times. There were 362 fractures reported among 285 study participants who had entered the hospital.

After adjusting the data to account for age, gender, race and location, researchers concluded that seniors who visit a hospital were twice as likely to fracture a bone-most commonly the hip-than seniors who did not visit one. The risk was more than three times greater during the first year after hospitalization, according to researchers.

"Because the risk of fracture is greatest soon after hospital discharge, assessment and interventions to reduce risk should be started during the hospital stay or shortly after discharge," the researchers recommended. Testing should be performed to gauge risks of falling, bone mineral density and vision, they said. The study is featured in the August 11/25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.