Why are post-menopausal women prone to falls? - Magaziner

Why are post-menopausal women prone to falls?

A study in the medical journal Menopause examined the effects of hormone therapy on postural balance in postmenopausal women and its association with risk of falls. In this study  postmenopausal women aged 45 to 75 years were included and divided into two groups: Those on hormonal therapy and those not on hormonal therapy. Because this study wanted to focus on the role of hormone therapy on aleviating balance disorders and fall risk, women who suffered from balance disorders secondary to a disease progression were excluded. This included women who were those at risk for falls from neurological or musculoskeletal disorders, vestibulopathies (inner ear disorder), uncorrected visual deficit, or drug use that balamce.

The researchers concluded:

Postmenopausal women using HT showed lower frequency of falls and a better performance in stabilometric parameters than did nonusers.


Postmenopausal Falling Risks

Here is composite profile of a woman at high risk for falling following menopause.

  • This woman is about 54 years old
  • She will suffer falls mostly in her own home.
  • Falls will occur within 3.5 years of the onset of menopause.
  • She has a one in six chance of fracturing a bone. 1

What are the risks and factors that make post-menopausal women prone to falls? The research is not very clear other than many things can cause it and a lot of studies have failed to recognize a specific influence.2 However some doctors are looking at vitamin Ds connection to fall risk.

Treating falling risk with vitamin D?

Doctors have concluded in a recent research study that after 4-weeks on vitamin D supplementation, women had significantly improved balance ability on normal stability surfaces  and that vitamin D2  may reduce the risks of falling in women in particular.3

In other research doctors address the problem that more than 90% of hip fractures in older Americans result from a fall. Inadequate intake of dietary protein and vitamin D are common in older adults, and diets in low these could contribute to loss of muscle mass and strength or coordination, in turn increasing the risk of falling.4 So a causal connection can also be made between vitamin D and osteoarthritis and fall risk.

Osteoarthritis and falling

While some research debates Bone Mineral Density and other factors, some research seems to point to the obvious, Osteoarthritis. Postmenopausal women with osteoarthritis have a 20% increased risk of fracture and experience 25% more falls than those without osteoarthritis. 5

More Risks Factors – Poor General Health

Doctors have identified ischemic heart disease, COPD, dementia, depression, diabetes, heart failure, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease and stroke as major risk factors for falling and fracture risks.6

In a recent medical paper, researchers found that heart failure is associated with a 30 percent increase in major fractures and also identifies a high-risk population that may benefit from increased screening and treatment for osteoporosis.

The symptoms of heart failure are well known, they include:

  • swelling in the feet, ankles, and legs,
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath.

Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer pump enough blood to nourish the body.
In  the research, doctors conducted a study of more than 45,000 patients undergoing bone mineral density testing for the first time and followed them for up to ten years. They found that heart failure was associated with a 30 percent increase in major fractures.7

Since family history is a risk factor for osteoporosis and heart disease, at the Magaziner Center for Wellness, we use genomic testing to gauge a genetic predisposition to bone loss and, where one is identified, treat the predisposition using nutritional supplements customized for a patient’s individual needs.

We look closely at each patient’s diet and lifestyle and work with her/him to make any necessary modifications for both heart disease and osteoporosis. For instance, if we see that a patient is consuming too much red meat and or sugar, we help her/him move toward a plant-based eating plan; if we see excessive smoking and alcohol use, we work to identify healthy strategies for stress relief.

We have found that many with osteoporosis have insulin resistance.  As a result, we do a thorough evaluation regarding lipid balance, and insulin and glucose metabolism and treat these areas accordingly.

Additionally, we assess for appropriate digestion and assimilation to be sure that a patient can properly break down and utilize the nutrients in their food as well as other testing based on the individual needs of the patient.

At the Magaziner Center for Wellness, we provide a comprehensive arthritis program aimed at both reducing pain and restoring function. It includes nutritional supplements prescribed to support joint function and individual dietary and lifestyle recommendations made by our physicians.

Are you concerned with falling risk?
Questions? Want to lean more? Contact us!

1. Nahas EA, Omodei MS, Cangussu LM, Nahas-Neto J.Evaluation of risk factors of falls in early postmenopausal women. Rev Bras Ginecol Obstet. 2013 Nov;35(11):490-6.
2. Cangussu LM, Nahas-Neto J, Nahas EAP, et al. Evaluation of postural balance in postmenopausal women and its relationship with bone mineral density- a cross sectional study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2012, 13:2 doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-2
3. Anek A, Bunyaratavej N, Jittivilai T. Effects of Short-Term Vitamin D Supplementation on Musculoskeletal and Body Balance for Prevention of Falling in Postmenopausal Women. J Med Assoc Thai. 2015 Sep;98 Suppl 8:S26-31.
Dietary Protein and Vitamin D Intake and Risk of Falls: A Secondary Analysis of Postmenopausal Women from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures.
4. Larocque SC, Kerstetter JE, Cauley JA, Insogna KL, Ensrud K, Lui LY, Allore HG. Dietary Protein and Vitamin D Intake and Risk of Falls: A Secondary Analysis of Postmenopausal Women from the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures. J Nutr Gerontol Geriatr. 2015;34(3):305-18. doi: 10.1080/21551197.2015.1054574.
5. Prieto-Alhambra D, Nogues X, Javaid MK, Wyman A,et al. An increased rate of falling leads to a rise in fracture risk in postmenopausal women with self-reported osteoarthritis: a prospective multinational cohort study (GLOW). Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 Jun 23. [Epub ahead of print]
6. Jørgensen TS, Hansen AH, Sahlberg M, et al. Falls and comorbidity: the pathway to fractures. Scand J Public Health. 2014 May;42(3):287-94. doi: 10.1177/1403494813516831. Epub 2014 Jan 16.
7. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, news release, Feb. 2, 2012

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