Background: Hip fractures in elderly people are common worldwide, and the predicted ageing of populations is increasing the burden of these fractures on health-care systems. However, prediction of the true increases in number of patients needing treatment requires exact knowledge of whether the number of hip fractures is rising more rapidly than can be accounted for by demographic changes alone. We aimed to make such a prediction for people aged 50 years or more in Finland.
Methods: All patients aged 50 years or more, who were admitted to hospitals in Finland during 1970-97 for primary treatment of first hip fracture were selected from the National Hospital Discharge Register. The age-specific and age-adjusted fracture incidences were expressed as the number of patients per 100,000 individuals per year, and prediction of the number, and incidence of hip fractures in Finland (population 5 million) until the year 2030 was calculated with a regression model.
Findings: The number of hip fractures in Finnish people aged 50 or more rose during the study period, from 1857 in 1970 to 7122 in 1997. The corresponding fracture incidence (per 100,000 people) increased from 163 to 438. The age-adjusted incidence of hip fractures also showed a steady increase from 1970 to 1997: in women, from 292 to 467, and in men, from 112 to 233. If this trend continues, the number of hip fractures in Finland will be almost three-fold higher in the year 2030 than in 1997.
Interpretation: The number of hip fractures in elderly Finnish men and women is increasing at a rate that cannot be explained merely by demographic changes. The precise reasons for this are not known, but deterioration in age-adjusted bone-mineral density and strength, with accompanying increase in the age-adjusted incidence of injurious falls of the elderly, could partly account for the development.