Routine dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanning of patients on entry to nursing or residential homes would cut morbidity and cost of care for this at-risk group, UK research suggests.
The bone mineral density (BMD) of 123 women residents in a nursing home was measured for the research, which was presented at the European Symposium on Calcified Tissues in Barcelona this week.
Two thirds were found to have osteoporotic BMD.
After six years' follow up, there was 84 per cent three-year survival. Of those with low BMD, 6 per cent had suffered hip fracture and 21 per cent other fractures. Only 61 per cent of those with osteoporotic bone density had started bisphosphonate treatment following the DXA scan.
Lead researcher Dr Mike Davie, consultant physician at The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic and District Hospital in Shropshire, said that residential home patients live long enough for treatment to impact hospitalisation rates.
'These patients go untested and untreated because they are old and are expected to die, but they are living quite a reasonable length of time,' he said.
Earlier research showed that although 30 per cent of over-70s hospitalised with hip fracture come from nursing or residential homes, this group is not assessed and treated.
'There is no systematic scheme for measuring bone density in these women, but we need to identify who is at risk so that we can treat them a give them a better quality of life,' he said.
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