Deaths after fracture have not declined in 20 years

October 02, 2003

Death rates among elderly people after fracturing a thigh bone (neck of femur) have not declined appreciably during the past 20 years, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Researchers analysed NHS statistics on hospital admissions for 32,590 people aged 65 years or over who were admitted with fractured neck of femur between 1968 and 1998. They calculated death rates during the first month and first year after fracture.

They found that death rates after fracture fell significantly from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, but have not declined any further in the past 20 years.

Death rates also rose sharply with increasing age, were higher in men than women, and were higher in lower social classes. In the first month after fracture, death rates were 16 times higher in men and 12 times higher in women than in the general population of the same age.

It is unclear whether death after fractured neck of femur has declined to an irreducible minimum or whether there is still scope for further reduction, say the authors.

The high death rates after fracture, and the fact that they have not fallen in 20 years, reinforce the need for measures to prevent osteoporosis and falls and their consequences in elderly people, they conclude.
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BMJ

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