In a recent randomized controlled trial (RCT), researchers discovered that vitamin D and exercise improved survival rate at one and four years after surgery for hip fracture.
More than 200,000 hip fractures occur each year in the U.S. The elderly face an increased risk for hip fractures due to the fragility of their bones.
Sadly, the mortality rate after sustaining a hip fracture has been estimated to be anywhere from 14% to 58%. This shocking statistic illustrates the urgency to discover ways to increase survival rate among those who have suffered from a hip fracture.
Exercise training offers an important strategy to improve recovery and prevent further strength and bone mineral density decline after hip surgery.
Due to vitamin D’s well-established role in bone health and muscle strength, researchers have hypothesized that maintaining a healthy vitamin D status may also play a role in the recovery of hip surgery.
A recent study aimed to determine whether the combination of vitamin D and exercise may decrease the mortality rate of hip surgery patients. The researchers enrolled a total of 88 healthy adult patients undergoing surgery for hip fractures. The average age was 82 years and the majority (88.6%) were women.
The researchers randomly divided the patients into two groups: the intervention group and the control group. The intervention group received 3 mg of calcifediol, also known as 25(OH)D, and partook in an exercise program. The control group received only the standard health recommendations.
The researchers wanted to know whether calcifediol and the exercise program would affect the one and four-year survival rate after surgery. They were also interested in the effect of vitamin D and exercise on the incidence of new fractures.
After one year, 10 patients had died, three from the intervention group and 17 from the control group (p = 0.001). However, there was no difference in the incidence of new fractures in the control versus the intervention group.
After four years, 20 patients had died, 3 from the intervention group and 17 from the control group. The survival rates were 93% in the intervention group and 62% in the placebo group.
The results showed strong figures with a survival rate difference of over 30%. However, there are a few factors to consider. The study cannot prove whether vitamin D, exercise or the combination of both are responsible for the improved survival rate among the intervention group. The intervention group used a 25(OH)D monthly opposed to the Vitamin D Council’s recommendation of vitamin D3 daily. This may have led to an underestimation of the benefits from vitamin D supplementation.
Larger randomized controlled trials using only daily doses of vitamin D3 are needed to evaluate the effects of vitamin D on the survival rate after surgery for hip fracture.
Tovey, A. & Cannell, JJ. Vitamin D and exercise proven to affect the survival rate after hip surgery. The Vitamin D Council Blog & Newsletter, April 3, 2017.
Laiz, A. Malouf, J. Marin, A. et al. Impact of 3-Monthly Vitamin D Supplementation Plus Exercise on Survival after Surgery for Osteoporotic Hip Fracture in Adult Patients over 50 Years: A Pragmatic Randomized, Partially Blinded, Controlled Trial. Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging, 2017.