Heart Failure's Link to Brittle Bones

Osteoporosis more common among heart failure patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Have heart failure? That may put you at an added risk of major fractures associated with osteoporosis. Increased screening and treatment appear key to catching bone loss early.

Heart failure has been linked to a 30 percent increase in major fractures associated with brittle bones.

"Seek a bone mineral density test if you have heart failure."

Dr. Sumit Majumdar, a lead author of the study from the University of Alberta in Canada, said that the research indicated that heart failure and thinning bones go hand in hand. He said that understanding the link between the two conditions could lead to new treatments that would treat both.

Previous research has suggested that heart failure may lead to fractures from increased incidence of falling, and because treatment for heart failure can lead to bone loss.

During the population cohort study, 45,509 adults underwent bone mineral density testing for the first time. They were then followed for 10 years. Of the participants, 1,841 had recent-onset heart failure.

Investigators made adjustments for traditional osteoporosis risk factors, yet still found that heart failure patients were at a significantly increased risk for major fractures.

"Part of screening for osteoporosis should involve looking at chest x-rays of patients with heart failure," noted Dr. Majumdar. "Heart failure patients get a lot of x-rays and they often incidentally show many fractures of the spine that would automatically provide an indication of severe osteoporosis and need for treatment."

The research will be published in the April 2012 issue of the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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Review Date: 
February 1, 2012
Last Updated:
February 2, 2012