While most older adults are educating themselves on the warning signs of heart attack, cancer or stroke, there is an unsuspected killer not receiving the attention it deserves: fragility fractures.
In reality, many more people suffer from a fragility fracture than heart attack, cancer or a stroke. It seems natural that one would be more concerned about cancer than hip fractures, the truth is hip fractures can, and do, have fatal effects.
In 2010, there were 258,000 persons 65 and older admitted for hip fractures. It is predicted that by 2030, there will be a 12 percent increase in hip fractures. The 30-day mortality rate after a hip fracture is around 9 percent. If a patient is dealing with other medical complications, it rises to 17 percent. Around 50 percent of patients will endure another fracture three to five years after their initial hip fracture.
Hip fracture rates increase exponentially with age. People 85 years and older are 10 to 15 times more likely to experience hip fractures than 60-65 year olds. Three-quarters of all hip fractures happen to older women. For senior patients, delaying surgery for over 36 hours reduces a patient’s probability of returning to independent living.
The statistics may seem worrisome, but prevention is possible. To help prevent hip fractures, seniors need to get adequate calcium and Vitamin D, do weight bearing exercises, and get checked to see if they have osteoporosis (over 10 million people ages 50+ have osteoporosis, while 34 million are at risk for the disease.
Osteoporosis increases a person’s risk of sustaining hip fracture. To help prevent falls, older adults should exercise regularly, have their eyes checked at least once a year, and eliminate hazardous objects in their home that may increase their risk of tripping, falling, etc.