Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures

“The study of more than 16,000 heart disease patients treated at emergency rooms in the province of Alberta found a more than fourfold higher incidence of fractures among the 2,000 of them with heart failure. The report is in the Nov. 4 issue of Circulation. While a 1997 study found a hint of low bone density among people getting heart transplants because of heart failure, "this is the first large-scale study of heart failure and fracture rate," said study author Dr. Justin A. Ezekowitz, director of the Heart Function Clinic at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. The finding has several important implications for people with heart failure and the doctors who treat them, Ezekowitz said. The higher incidence of hip fractures is especially worrying, he said, since, ‘they can be seriously debilitating for older folks, increasing the risk of blood clots to the legs and development of pneumonia.’ ‘First, we need appropriate treatment of osteoporosis for patients with heart failure,’ Ezekowitz said. ‘Second, we need to encourage heart failure patients to maintain exercise and good nutrition.’ Osteoporosis is loss of bone mass that increases the risk of fracture. Exercise and proper dieting are recommended to help prevent the condition. ‘Physicians treating people for heart failure need to be more aware of the risk of fractures,’ said Dr. Mariell L. Jessup, director of the heart failure and transplant program at the University of Pennsylvania and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. ‘When patients have such a severe disease, we tend to ignore the other problems they might have,’ Jessup said. ‘There is good reason to focus on the total patient, and not just their heart failure.’”


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