(IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) - Falls and fractures are some of the most serious threats to the elderly, accounting for 50 percent of all injury-related deaths. A new study at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam identifies moderately low sodium levels in the blood (hyponatremia) as a likely contributor to these threats.
"Screening for a low sodium concentration in the blood, and treating it when present, may be a new strategy to prevent fractures," lead researcher Ewout J. Hoorn, MD, PhD was quoted as saying.
Although osteoporosis has not been proven to be caused in any way by low sodium levels, a relationship between hyponatremia, falls, fractures and osteoporosis has been confirmed by a variety of recent studies. In Dr. Hoorn's study, 5,200 adults over the age of 55 were asked to provide information regarding sodium levels and then follow up with the researchers six years later with any reports of fractures of falls.
Eight percent of the participants had hyponatremia, and this group showed a significantly higher rate of falls (24 percent compared to 16 percent) and fractures. The risk for vertebral fractures and vertebral compression fractures was 61 percent higher in this group, and the risk of non-spinal fractures such as hip fractures was increased by 39 percent. The risk of death was found to be 21 percent higher. Bone mineral density remained constant in the two groups.
The dynamics of how hyponatremia influences the risk of fracture is unknown, but the correlation is substantial.
"Screening older adults for and treatment of hyponatremia in older adults may be an important new strategy to prevent fractures," Dr. Horn was quoted as saying.