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Osteoporosis, a disease where bones become weak and brittle, affects more than 44 million Americans. It contributes to about 2 million fractures a year, with women suffering more of these broken bones than men.
"Although women are more likely to sustain an initial, osteoporosis-related 'fragility fracture,' men have similar rates of incurring a subsequent fracture and are at greater risk for mortality after these injuries," said study author Dr. Alan Zhang.
Zhang is an orthopaedic surgeon and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 1 million Americans, aged 65 and older, who had osteoporosis and suffered a fracture between 2005 and 2009. Of those patients, 87 percent were women.
The death rate one year after a fracture was almost 19 percent for men and 13 percent for women. Ankle fractures were the only exception, with similar death rates for men and women of just over 8 percent, the investigators found.
Women were five times more likely to suffer an initial fracture than men, but had a slightly lower risk for subsequent fractures within three years of the first fracture, the findings showed.
Also, men who required surgery to treat an initial fracture were more likely to suffer another fracture within three years. The only exception was with spinal compression fractures, where the male-female risk was comparable, the researchers said.
The study was presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in San Diego.
"The key findings from this study show that patient sex can affect the risk for sustaining a fragility fracture related to osteoporosis," Zhang said in an academy news release. "These findings may be used to better counsel patients after an initial fragility fracture."
Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
-- Robert Preidt
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