Heart failure patients should be screened for osteoporosis because of fracture risk

Heart failure patients have a high fracture risk and should be screened for osteoporosis, researchers have said.

Osteoporosis bone scans should be used to identify at-risk patients
Osteoporosis bone scans should be used to identify at-risk patients

A team from the University of Alberta, Canada, found that patients with heart failure are at 30% greater risk of major fractures, irrespective of bone density.

Study lead Dr Sumit Majumdar said: 'Our study demonstrates for the first time that heart failure and thinning of bones go hand in hand. Understanding the mechanism between heart failure and osteoporosis might lead to new treatments for both conditions.'

The researchers said that although studies have shown the conditions occur together in older age, no other study had measured the effect of bone mineral density on this.

The team tracked 45,509 adults aged over 50 years who had been given bone mineral density tests. Of these, 1,841 had recent-onset heart failure. Over five years of the study, there were 2,703 major fragility fractures.

The researchers found fracture risk for patients with prior heart failure was almost a third higher than for those without the condition, after adjusting for risk of osteoporosis, comorbidities and medication.

At the time of bone mineral density testing, an estimated 48% of patients with heart failure were already eligible for osteoporosis drug treatment, the researchers discovered.

They said the results identified a high-risk population who could benefit from increased screening and treatment for osteoporosis. These patients should also be given advice about diet, exercise and smoking to reduce their risk.

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