, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 48-53

Screening for vertebral osteoporosis using individual risk factors

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Osteoporosis is a major cause of ill health in postmenopausal women. Several risk factors for osteoporosis have been identified, and they have been widely recommended as a means of identifying subgroups of postmenopausal women who might benefit from prophylaxis and therapy. Evidence to support this use of risk factors is currently lacking, however. We have constructed and evaluated a profile of putative risk factors as a means of identifying women attending general practitioners who have sustained vertebral fractures. The overall prevalence of vertebral fractures in the 1012 women (mean age 64.4 years) studied was 7.8%. Women who had sustained vertebral fractures in this population were significantly (p<0.05) older and shorter than those without fractures. They reported a significantly (p<0.05) earlier menopause, lower parity and a greater prevalence of hyperthyroidism. However, the best screening instrument devised was not sufficiently predictive to warrant widespread use.