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Osteoporos Int. 2003 Jul;14(6):520-4. Epub 2003 Apr 25.

The effect of vertebral fracture as a risk factor for osteoporotic fracture and mortality in a Spanish population.

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Bone and Mineral Research Unit, Instituto Reina Sofía de Investigación, Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias, Universidad de Oviedo, 33006 Oviedo, Spain.


There is little data concerning the morbidity, mortality, and epidemiology of vertebral fracture. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of prevalent and incident vertebral fractures as risk factors for further osteoporotic fractures and mortality. The study was performed on a cohort of 316 women and 308 men older than 50 belonging to the EVOS study, randomly selected from our city register. At the beginning of the study and 4 years later, lateral dorsal and lumbar X-rays were performed. In addition, evaluation of the incidence of osteoporotic nonvertebral fractures was performed throughout 8 years. The incidence of all osteoporotic fractures was higher in women than in men (two-fold increase in vertebral fracture incidence and five-fold increase in Colles' and femur incidence). Vertebral fracture was a strong risk factor for a new vertebral fracture [RR=4.7 (1.8-11.9)], hip fracture [RR=6.7 (2.0-22.7)] and Colles' fracture [RR=3.0 (1.1-7.8)]. Prevalent and incident vertebral fractures were associated with a higher risk of having a hip fracture [RR=10.0 (2.0-50.2)] and Colles' fracture [RR=5.5 (1.3-23.4)]. In addition, in women, the vertebral fracture was associated with a higher mortality. By contrast, no association was found in men. These results demonstrate the association between a previous vertebral fracture with increments in the incidence of osteoporotic fractures of any type. In addition, we found a significantly higher mortality rate in women having vertebral fractures. These findings support the necessity of preventing the occurrence of vertebral fractures to limit their strong negative impact on mortality.

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