Anxiety in Older Women Linked to Increase Risk of Bone Fractures

When I was in college, I worked as a night orderly in a nursing home. I was surprised at the number of older residents, mostly women, who were in the nursing home due to suffering a hip or leg fracture.

My wife worked on the geriatric floor in a local hospital many years ago and she also saw her share of older women patients.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, my wife’s mom lived with us. She suffered from severe osteoporosis, losing nearly 6 inches in height, causing her esophagus to fold back and forth, making it impossible for her to swallow. She ended up with a feeding tube through her side into her stomach. The osteoporosis has left her with several flattened vertebra and a handful of fractured ribs that would not heal. One day, she turned too quickly, got dizzy and fell, breaking her femur. She was hospitalized and had surgery to repair the facture. Sadly, a few days later, her heart just gave out and she passed away a couple of months before reaching her 90th birthday.

According to the CDC:

One of the most serious fall injuries is a broken hip. It is hard to recover from a hip fracture and afterward many people are not able to live on their own. As the U.S. population gets older, the number of hip fractures is likely to go up.

  • Each year over 300,000 older people—those 65 and older—are hospitalized for hip fractures.1
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling,2 usually by falling sideways.3
  • Women experience three-quarters of all hip fractures.1
    • Women fall more often than men.
    • Women more often have osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break.
  • The chances of breaking your hip go up as you get older.

According to Medicine.net:

Falls are the most common cause of injuries among senior citizens and the top reason for a hospital admission for trauma. Advanced age substantially increases the likelihood of hospitalization after a fall. Falls account for 87% of all fractures among people aged 65 years or older.

For seniors, fractures are the most serious consequence of falls (short of death). The most common bones to fracture in falls are:

  • The hip, femur (thigh bone), pelvis, and vertebrae (spine);
  • The humerus (upper arm bone), forearm, and hand; and
  • The leg and ankle bones.

Osteoporosis plays a key role in the number and seriousness of falls and fractures in older adults, especially women, who suffer from osteoporosis more frequently than men. But are there other factors that can lead to the danger of bone fractures in older adults – namely women?

Believe it or not, anxiety has been found to contribute to the risk of fractures in older women, as reported:

Older women with higher levels of anxiety than their peers are also more likely to develop poor bone health that increases the risk of fractures, a small study suggests.

Researchers examined results from anxiety assessments and bone mineral density tests for 192 postmenopausal women. Those with the lowest anxiety levels had a 10-year fracture risk of about 20 percent, compared with a 25 percent risk among women with the highest anxiety levels, the study found.

“Higher anxiety levels were independently from other factors associated with low bone mineral density and higher fracture risk,” said lead study author Dr. Antonino Catalano of the University Hospital of Messina in Italy.

“Our findings suggest a possible new clinical risk factor for osteoporosis that could be measured in order to improve our ability to identify women at risk for fractures,” Catalano said by email.

Ladies, chill out and stop stressing. Find ways to relieve your stress and anxiety. Get a small dog as a number of reports have shown that petting a dog at least 10 minutes a day helps relieve a lot of stress. Find a hobby or volunteer at a school, church, library, nursing home or anywhere. Take up yoga or tai chi or some other form of meditation or calming routine. After all, if your stress and anxiety doesn’t cause you to have a stroke or heart attack, it just may lead to a fatal fracture.

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