Objective: To investigate whether aorta calcification (AC) - a surrogate marker of atherosclerosis - is an independent indicator of low bone mass density (BMD), accelerated bone loss, and risk of future fractures in postmenopausal women.
Design: A prospective epidemiological study. Follow-up period was 7.5 years.
Setting: Community-based sample followed by a research institute.
Subjects: A total of 2662 generally healthy postmenopausal women with a mean age of 65.0 +/- 7.1 years at baseline.
Main outcome measures: Annual rate of changes in BMD (DEXA) and AC (X-rays), vertebral fractures (X-rays), hip fractures (questionnaire).
Results: Advanced AC at baseline was significantly associated with lower BMD and accelerated bone loss from the proximal femur. In a multivariate logistic regression model, age (OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.0-1.2, P = 0.02), body mass index (BMI; OR 0.9, 95% CI 0.8-1.0, P = 0.03) and the severity of AC (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.1-4.8, P = 0.03) were independent predictors of hip fractures. Adjusted OR for vertebral fracture was 1.2 (95% CI 1.0-1.5, P = 0.12).
Conclusions: Aorta calcification seems to independently contribute to the development of osteoporosis in the proximal femur. Further studies are needed to clarify whether effective atherosclerosis prevention lowers hip fracture risk.