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Bone mineral density details could lower patients fracture risk

Tuesday 25th July 2017
Access to bone mineral density information could help radiographers to reduce their patients fracture risk. Image: Toa55 via iStock
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Genetics may play a role in a person's risk of suffering bone fractures, according to new research.

A paper published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research that involved the analysis of data from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures has identified a link between hereditary bone density and increased fracture risk.

Bone mineral density can be inherited, with the researchers finding that both this and previous history of fractures could influence a person's likelihood of suffering further bone breaks in the future.

Therefore, this could be an area where radiographers can advise their patients; knowing the bone mineral density of those who have suffered fractures could allow them to advise on certain lifestyle factors to reduce the risk of further breaks that could potentially prove life-limiting.

Dr Douglas Kiel, senior author of the study, explained: "Having high-resolution three-dimensional images allowed us to estimate the strength of the bone, called failure load, using a technique called micro-finite element analysis.

"We were able to then determine that actual bone strength is an inherited measurement. Future genetic studies of bone can use this measure to learn about genes that are important to skeletal health."

In total, the researchers analysed data relating to almost 8,000 women over more than two decades. They looked at hip fracture patients over a period of 25 years and non-vertebral fracture sufferers across 20 years.

Patients aged 80 and over were most likely to suffer further hip fractures throughout the study period (22.6 per cent compared to 13.9 per cent for under-70s). Meanwhile, those who experienced non-vertebral fractures had a 46.2 per cent chance of further bone breaks, but this may have been prevented if their inherited bone mineral density was known.

It was found that a single femoral neck bone mineral density measurement could help to accurately predict the likelihood of patients suffering further fractures in the future.

Radiographers may therefore wish to have these measurements for their patients so they can advise them against pursuits that may increase their fracture risk if they have a certain bone mineral density.

Written by Megan Smith

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