Location: South West England
Location: North West England
Screening elderly patients for their bone mineral density levels in a community setting could help to prevent a significant number from suffering hip fractures, the results of a recent trial suggest.
Research conducted by doctors from the University of East Anglia and the University of Manchester saw over 12,000 women aged 50 and above enrolled in a community screening programme designed to assess their hip fracture risk.
The participants were asked to complete a questionnaire detailing their physical fitness and mobility levels, while their bone mineral density was also measured.
These screenings generally took place at patients' local GP practices, which allowed doctors to provide targeted treatment and lifestyle advice to those deemed to be at the greatest risk of suffering a hip fracture.
If the patients had been required to travel to hospital for screenings instead, perhaps not as many would have been captured, so this provides an example of how radiographers could work more closely alongside GP practices in the future.
Among the women enrolled in the trial, a 28 per cent decrease in hip fractures was recorded over a five-year period, demonstrating that community screening and early intervention could have significant long-term benefits for thousands of older people throughout the UK.
Statistics show that around 536,000 people suffer a fracture of some kind due to bone fragility each year in the country, with hip fractures accounting for 79,000 of these.
Previous studies have shown that under one-third of patients make a full recovery following a hip fracture, so any preventative interventions are vital to safeguard the quality - and length - of people's lives.
Professor Lee Shepstone of the University of East Anglia, lead author of the community screening study, commented: "This is the first trial to show that a community-screening approach based on the FRAX fracture risk tool is both feasible and effective.
"Given that the number of costly and debilitating hip fractures is expected to increase with an ageing population, the results of this study potentially have important public health implications."
Written by Megan Smith
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