Hyponatremia May Subject Elderly Patients to More Fractures

New research shows that the common blood disorder, hyponatremia, may be a risk factor for fractures in elderly patients.

New research presented at the European Congress of Endocrinology shows that the common blood disorder, hyponatremia, may be a risk factor for fractures in elderly patients. Researchers at Erasmus MC conducted the study and stressed that it would be beneficial to screen elderly patients with fractures for this condition.

Hyponatremia is a deficiency of sodium in the blood that most often occurs in elderly patients and hospitalized patients. While mild hyponatremia is not considered a serious condition and does not require treatment, recent studies indicate that the condition is linked to an increased risk of fractures. However, these findings have not been demonstrated in a prospective study before. Osteoporosis, a condition where bone mineral density decreases, is the most common cause for fractures in elderly patients.

Researchers at Erasmus MC analyzed blood samples from 5208 elderly patients to assess their levels of sodium. They also examined how this related to their blood mineral density along with looking at correlations with recent falls, the number of vertebral and non-vertebral fracture, and mortality over a number of years. Of the total amount of subjects, 399 (7.7%) had hyponatremia and it was found that these affected patients were 40% more likely to experience a non-vertebral fracture during a follow up than non-sufferers.

Still, hyponatremia was not associated with bone mineral density. People with hyponatremia were significantly more likely to have a recently suffered a fall (23.8%), but this had no effect on their likelihood of experiencing a fracture.

The data gathered from the study suggests that hyponatremia is associated with an increased risk of vertebral and non-vertebral fractures. However, it is unclear whether hyponatremia is causal factor in the development of fractures or whether it is just an indicator of the risks facing patients. Hyponatremia may also be affecting some other aspect of bone quality due to indications that fracture risks in patients with the condition are independent from recent falls.

Around the Web

Common Blood Disorder May Be a Risk Factor for Fractures [Sciencedaily.com]

Hyponatremia Independent of Osteoporosis Is Associated with Fracture Occurrence [Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology]