Question:I heard that most hip fractures are in women over 65. Can you explain why this happens?
Two major factors account for the number of hip fractures in older adults, especially women over age 65. The first is osteoarthritis of the joints -- wear and tear on the joints that seems to be part of the aging process for many adults. The second is osteoporosis (brittle bones), which often occurs as a result of menopause for women. Osteoporosis can also affect men in this age group.
Loss of balance and falls are a major cause of hip fractures. There are many risk factors for falls for both men and women. Muscle weakness and decreased reaction time when the balance is challenged are part of the problem. Medications that cause dizziness or dehydration can also contribute to falls.
Sometimes simple household situations can cause problems. For example slippery floors, throw rugs, animals under foot, or stairs without handrails can lead to falls. Problems with vision and hearing so common in older age can add to the risk. Use of alcohol or other substances is another risk factor.
Doctors, nurses, and physical therapists are working together to teach older adults about the dangers and risks that can lead to falls and hip fractures. Osteoporosis prevention for men and women begins with nutrition and exercise early in life. Staying active and doing specific balance exercises can also make a difference.Matt Hasson. One-third of Hip Fracture Patients Undergo Hip Replacement Surgery. In Orthopedics Today. March 2006. Vol. 26. No. 3. Pp. 115, 120.
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