Background: Mortality increases after hip fractures in women and more so in men. Little is known, however, about mortality after other fractures. We investigated the mortality associated with all fracture types in elderly women and men.
Methods: We did a 5-year prospective cohort study in the semi-urban city of Dubbo, Australia, of all residents aged 60 years and older (2413 women and 1898 men). Low-trauma osteoporotic fractures that occurred between 1989 and 1994, confirmed by radiography and personal interview, were classified as proximal femur, vertebral, and groupings of other major and minor fractures. We calculated standardised mortality rates from death certificates for people with fractures compared with the Dubbo population.
Findings: 356 women and 137 men had low-trauma fractures. In women and men, mortality was increased in the first year after all major fractures. In women, age-standardised mortality ratios were 2.18 (95% CI 2.03-2.32) for proximal femur, 1.66 (1.51-1.80) for vertebral, 1.92 (1.70-2.14) for other major, and 0.75 (0.66-0.84) for minor fractures. In men, these ratios were 3.17 (2.90-3.44) for proximal femur, 2.38 (2.17-2.59) for vertebral, 2.22 (1.91-2.52) for other major, and 1.45 (1.25-1.65) for minor fractures. There were excess deaths (excluding minor fractures in women) in all age-groups.
Interpretation: All major fractures were associated with increased mortality, especially in men. The loss of potential years of life in the younger age-group shows that preventative strategies for fracture should not focus on older patients at the expense of younger women and of men.