Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hip FAQ

Question:

We suspect Mother had a heart attack and that's why she fell and broke her hip. Is there any way to check out our theory?

Answer:

Many times patients who fall and break their hip wonder, Did I fall and then break my hip? Or Did I break my hip and that's why I fell? There is some new evidence that many patients fall and break their hips -- and the reason they fell was because they were having a silent heart attack. One way to know for sure is through a blood test at the time of hospitalization. Measuring blood levels of a biomarker called troponin may alert the surgeon of heart complications. Elevated troponin levels in the blood can signal when a person has had a heart attack. Troponin is a complex regulatory protein that helps produce muscle (heart) contraction. Troponin is quite specific for myocardial ischemia (loss of blood to the heart muscle) and necrosis (death of heart muscle cells). It remains elevated five to seven days after a heart attack and is a predictor of cardiovascular mortality (death). There are some imaging tests that can also be done after the fact. For example, scintigraphic studies (imaging using radioactive dye) can show areas of damaged heart muscle. The scintigraphy has a unique ability to show a change in cellular function and physiology rather than just taking a look at the heart anatomy. However, these tests can't tell the difference between old damage and recent injury. False-positive results can occur. Let your mother's doctor know you are concerned that she is having silent heart attacks. It may not be too late to do some additional cardiac testing. It may not change her current treatment plan, but it could help prevent similar problems from developing in the future. Erik Severson, MD, et al. Hip Fractures in the Elderly: Timing When to Get On and Off the Operating Table. In Current Orthopaedic Practice. September/October 2009. Vol. 20. No. 5. Pp. 490-493.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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