Osteoporosis is characterized by reduced bone mass and bone strength leading to an increased risk of fractures. Although health care professionals have long known that low bone mineral density (BMD) is an important risk factor for bone fractures, questions have remained about how often BMD should be measured.
Scientists at the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston sought to determine whether changes in BMD over a four-year period (from baseline) provided useful information regarding fracture risk. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), all part of the NIH.
Douglas Kiel, M.D., M.P.H, Sarah Berry, M.D., and their colleagues recruited 310 men and 492 women from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study whose BMD was measured twice between 1987 and 1999. The researchers found that — among study participants age 75 and older who were not being treated for osteoporosis — repeating a BMD test within four years added limited value in predicting hip or other major fractures.
Joan A. McGowan, Ph.D., Director of the NIAMS Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases, is available to comment on the implications of these findings from a public health perspective.
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Berry SD, Samelson EJ, Pencina MJ, McLean RR, Cupples LA, Broe KE, Kiel DP. Repeat bone mineral density screening and prediction of hip and major osteoporotic fracture. JAMA. 2013;310(12):1256-1262. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277817.
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