Purpose: Because patients with obstructive airways disease may be susceptible to osteoporosis, we sought to determine the association between airflow obstruction and osteoporosis.
Subjects and methods: We analyzed data from Caucasian participants (n = 9502) in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted in the United States between 1988 and 1994. We used data from dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry measurements of the total femur to determine whether a study participant had osteoporosis (defined as total bone mineral density values < or =2.5 SD below the corresponding mean values from young, healthy participants). We calculated the odds ratio (OR) for osteoporosis in four lung function categories: none, mild, moderate, and severe airflow obstruction.
Results: Overall, airflow obstruction was associated with increased odds of osteoporosis compared with without airflow obstruction (OR = 1.9; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.4 to 2.5). Participants with severe airflow obstruction were at especially increased risk (OR = 2.4; 95% CI: 1.3 to 4.4). Moderate but not mild airflow obstruction was also associated with osteoporosis.
Conclusion: Airflow obstruction was an important risk factor for osteoporosis in the study population. These data highlight the importance of measuring bone mineral density in those with moderate-to-severe airflow obstruction for the detection and prevention of osteoporosis-related morbidity.