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Diagnosing malnutrition could cut hip fractures

6th June 2011

Researchers in Wales have suggested a way of preventing hip fractures in elderly people could be by diagnosing malnutrition earlier.

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The team, from the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, looked at 300 elderly patients who had all fractured the neck of the femur (NOF) in the hip joint.

The researchers also looked at 100 more patients who had not had a fracture but had undergone assessment for a hip replacement.

They discovered that people who had lower levels of protein, albumin and lymphocytes were more likely to have fractures, which indicated that they may have been malnourished.

Lead author Stefan Bajada said: "These results confirm that malnourished elderly [people] run a dramatically increased risk of fracturing their neck of femur, usually by falling due to a lack of strength."

The research, which was revealed at the yearly congress of the European Federation of National Associations of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (EFORT), also showed that lower levels of protein, albumin or lymphocytes were connected with a higher risk of death in the first six months after a surgical procedure.

Mr Bajada concluded: "Identifying malnutrition early at primary care level, and then consistently treating it, will likely prevent neck of femur fractures from occurring."

"Aggressively treating malnourishment during hospitalisation will reduce the patient's risk of dying soon after returning home," he added.

A spokeswoman for Arthritis Research UK aid that medical staff could take advantage of the "opportunity" to identify and treat malnutrition in the their elderly patients and prevent fractures.

 

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