Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.
Hip fractures are tremendously dangerous for seniors, but they can be even more insidious and difficult to prevent in women. This type of injury can very quickly have deadly consequences. You or your loved one may require extensive surgery to repair the damage, and this may lead to a host of long term or even potentially deadly medical complications. These can include an increased chance of acquiring aspiration pneumonia, blood clots on the legs, increased difficulty walking after surgery, infections at the point of surgery, or acquiring a serious, antibiotic resistant hospital infection such as MRSA. 95% of all of those who fracture their hips are over the age of 65 years old, and do not have the same capacity to fight off an infection or heal as they did when they were younger.
Hip Fractures Are Worse in Women
It is easier for elderly women to fracture their hips than it is men, and the fractures have a startling tendency to be far worse in nature. Hip fracture patients, especially in cases which lead to an eventual fatality, are more likely to be older women.
There are many reasons for this. Women are far more prone to osteoporosis than their male counterparts according to the American Family Physician journal. According to the NHS, three million seniors in the UK have the condition. Osteoporosis is a reduction in bone mineral density, leading to brittle bones which are easier to break and a decreased strength overall. Bone loss can be insidious. Frequently, people do not have any idea that they even have osteoporosis until they’re presenting in the emergency room with a freshly broken bone. It has few to no symptoms, and awareness is terribly low.
1 in 3 women will suffer a fracture related to osteoporosis during their lives. Osteoporosis occurs in women partly due to the consequences of menopause. After the age of thirty, when bone density is at its maximum, it starts to decrease. Women experience this decrease far more rapidly than men due to their declining estrogen levels as they age. Menopause only accelerates this effect, and as a result, most people with osteoporosis-related fractures are women.
The Effects Go Deeper
Anyone who has broken their hip once is at an increased risk of doing so again. One in three women who break their hips will do so again within a year, and half of them will suffer another fracture within five years. Repeated fractures and hospital stays are associated with increased overall mortality.
Preventing Hip Fractures in Women
There are precautions that can be taken to prevent hip fractures in women. Women and their healthcare providers should make these decisions in tandem with one other in order to strive for the best possible outcome. The foremost consideration that should be made before any treatment is fall prevention. Preparing the home can be as simple as ensuring that you or your loved one has plenty of hand rails to choose from, and has adapted the house with the necessary tools and equipment to prevent a fall.
Medical treatments can vary. Certain lifestyle changes, like taking a calcium supplement or increasing the consumption of leafy greens, can help to slow the decline of bone mineral density, or strengthen bones that have already lost a considerable degree of density.
Various medications can also help. In post-menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy may be considered in order to delay the rapid loss of bone mineral density that comes at this stage of life. However, because of the increased risks of HRT in older women, HRT is now mostly restricted to younger women who are at high risk of fracture and also have menopausal symptoms. Discuss this with your physician to find out if it is right for you.