Osteoporosis poses a major threat to public health because of its association with fractures. Hip fractures are recognized as the most serious possible complication of osteoporosis.
Complications from hip fractures may include chronic pain, disability, reduced quality of life and premature death. As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, hip fractures have become increasingly prevalent throughout the world.
A recent study found that few hip fracture patients are prescribed vitamin D in the Mediterranean region, despite evidence showing vitamin D improves health outcomes after fractures.
Vitamin D supplementation and proper calcium intake are highly important for the safety and efficacy of osteoporosis treatment. Furthermore, research supports the use of vitamin D3 in fracture patients.
A study found that vitamin D3 supplementation improves the survival rate after hip surgery. Researchers in the UK conducted an analysis which estimated that $37 million would be saved in healthcare costs by prescribing vitamin D3 to prevent hip fractures.
A new analysis aimed to assess the trends in the use of vitamin D3 supplements (the most effective form of vitamin D) in over 30,000 hip fracture patients older than 65 years. The researchers collected the data of osteoporotic hip fracture patients, all of whom were residents in the region of Tuscany, Italy in the years of 2011 to 2015.
Here is what the analysis found:
- In 2011, less than 2% of individuals with hip fractures were taking vitamin D3 before they fractured their hips. In 2015, nearly 12% of individuals took vitamin D3 before they experienced hip fractures.
- The majority of hip fracture patients did not receive vitamin D3 supplements at the time of the fracture event.
- About one third of patients received vitamin D3 supplements one year after the fracture.
- Vitamin D3 was the most prescribed vitamin D supplement in 2011, and its use increased significantly during the five-year analysis (p <001).
- A single dose of 25,000 IU (625 mcg) of vitamin D3 was the most prescribed form of vitamin D in 2015 (p < 0.001).
- After hip surgery, about 2-3 months after the fracture occurred, vitamin D levels were measured among 254 patients. Average vitamin D levels were 13.7 ng/ml. Only 20.9% of patients had levels above 20 ng/ml, and 7.1% of patients had levels above 30 ng/ml.
The researchers concluded,
“Vitamin D inadequacy is highly prevalent in patients experiencing a major osteoporotic fracture such a hip fracture. The use of vitamin D supplements is low in patients admitted to surgical departments for the treatment of hip fractures and remains low after the event.”
The researchers continued,
“There is therefore the need to reinforce the use of vitamin D, along with proper nutritional advice for sufficient calcium intake, for optimal musculoskeletal health and prevention programs.”
Tovey, A. & Cannell, JJ. Recent analysis reveals the vast majority of hip fracture patients do not receive vitamin D. The Vitamin D Council Blog & Newsletter, July 28, 2017.