Decreased height in older women linked to increased fracture risk, mortality rate

Older women who have lost more than two inches of height during the past 15 years of their life may have an increased mortality rate and risk of bone fracture, according to a recent study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

In the study, researchers observed and measured the heights of 9,677 women who were 65 years or older for 15 years and found that, in the subsequent 3,124 women who survived to return for a final height measurement, the women who lost more than two inches of height were 50% more at risk for fracturing a bone or dying within 5 years of that last height measurement. They also concluded that those fractures were not of the spine and were independent of vertebral fractures and bone mineral density.

Teresa Hillier, MD, MS, lead author and an endocrinologist at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., said that surgeons should use the results to help prevent fractures in at risk elderly patients.

“We need to do everything we can to prevent these fractures and our study suggests that clinicians don’t need to wait until they have two height measurements before they can be proactive,” Hillier, stated in a press release. “Most older women remember how tall they were in their mid 20s and if they measure two inches shorter than that, clinicans should consider bone density testing, counseling and possible treatment to help prevent fractures.”


  • Hillier TA, Lui L, Kado DM, et al. Height loss in older women: Risk of hip fracture and mortality independent of vertebral fractures. J Bone Miner Res. 2012. doi:10.1002/jbmr.558.




Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President of Ortho Spine Partners and Partner for The De Angelis Group. He also serves as Co-Founder and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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