(CBS) Scientists are sounding the alarm on hip fractures. New research suggests they may be deadlier than previously believed, with women who fracture a hip being twice as likely to die within a year.
"Before we might have assumed that sicker women are just more likely to get hip fractures," LeBlanc told CNN. "But now we know that there is something about the hip fracture itself, and not an underlying condition, that is bringing on this increased risk of death."
For the study - published in the September 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine - researchers selected 1,116 women with a hip fracture, and then matched each with four healthy women of the same age - for a total of 5,580 women. The researchers observed the women for an average of 14 years.
Women over 65 who had hip fractures were more likely to die faster, the study showed. More than half of the deaths in the fracture group occurred within three months of fracture, and nearly three-quarters of deaths occurred within six months.
The study found that for women who sustain a hip fracture over 70, their risk for death drops after a year. But the same can't be said for women between the ages of 65 and 70 - they carry that risk for dying from a fracture for up to a decade.
"Women who are 65 to 70 years of age continue to have an increased risk of mortality for up to five to 10 years," Dr. Erin S. LeBlanc, of Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Ore., said in a written statement. "Therefore, prevention of hip fractures in these women should be of high priority."
The authors think these fracture deaths might have something to do with the resulting hospitalization or surgery, or simply the psychological stress from the event.
Nearly 300,000 hip fractures are sustained each year in the U.S., and nearly 75 percent occur in women, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation. Besides being female, risk factors include being tall or thin, poor eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and medications that lead to bone loss.
WebMD has more on hip fractures.