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Vertebral Fractures Predict Additional Fractures in Women

Particularly if they also have low bone mineral density

TUESDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Women with pre-existing vertebral fractures have a high risk of developing new vertebral fractures over the next 15 years, particularly if they have osteoporosis diagnosed by low bone mineral density, researchers report in the Dec. 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jane A. Cauley, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues studied 2,680 white women, mean age 68.8 years at entry, to investigate the absolute risk of vertebral fractures based on bone mineral density and prevalent fracture status. Spinal radiographs were performed at baseline to identify prevalent vertebral fractures and repeated at a mean of 14.9 years later to identify incident fractures. Bone mineral density measurements were obtained by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry.

During the follow-up period, 18.2 percent of women developed a new vertebral fracture, including 41.4 percent of women with and 14.2 percent without a prevalent vertebral fracture at baseline. Vertebral fracture risk also increased with low bone mineral density. The absolute risk of vertebral fracture was greatest among women with low bone mineral density scores and a prevalent vertebral fracture (56 percent) and lowest among women with normal bone mineral density and no pre-existing fractures (9 percent).

"Our results support the recommendation that older women with a prevalent vertebral fracture should be treated for osteoporosis irrespective of bone mineral density," the authors conclude.

Cauley and colleagues report associations with several pharmaceutical companies.

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