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Embargoed for Release: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
NIH-funded study examines frequency of follow-up bone mineral density tests in older adults
Osteoporosis is characterized by reduced bone mass and bone strength leading to an increased risk of fractures. Although health care professionals have long known that low bone mineral density (BMD) is an important risk factor for bone fractures, questions have remained about how often BMD should be measured.
Scientists at the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston sought to determine whether changes in BMD over a four-year period (from baseline) provided useful information regarding fracture risk. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), all part of the NIH.
Douglas Kiel, M.D., M.P.H, Sarah Berry, M.D., and their colleagues recruited 310 men and 492 women from the Framingham Osteoporosis Study whose BMD was measured twice between 1987 and 1999. The researchers found that — among study participants age 75 and older who were not being treated for osteoporosis — repeating a BMD test within four years added limited value in predicting hip or other major fractures.
Joan A. McGowan, Ph.D., Director of the NIAMS Division of Musculoskeletal Diseases, is available to comment on the implications of these findings from a public health perspective.
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The mission of the NIAMS, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health, is to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. For more information about the NIAMS, call the information clearinghouse at (301) 495-4484 or (877) 22-NIAMS (free call) or visit the NIAMS website at http://www.niams.nih.gov.
The NIA leads the federal government effort conducting and supporting research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. The Institute’s broad scientific program seeks to understand the nature of aging and to extend the healthy, active years of life. For more information on research, aging, and health, go to http://www.nia.nih.gov.
Part of the National Institutes of Health, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
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Berry SD, Samelson EJ, Pencina MJ, McLean RR, Cupples LA, Broe KE, Kiel DP. Repeat bone mineral density screening and prediction of hip and major osteoporotic fracture. JAMA. 2013;310(12):1256-1262. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277817.