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New predictors for osteoporosis

Age, height and weight can be used to predict whether patients have osteoporosis when faced with long waits for DEXA scans, new research finds.

A study of 408 men and women over 50 who had fallen, found these factors predicted osteoporosis in both sexes.

In women, the researchers found a model based on fracture history over the age of 50, age over 83, weight under 57 kilos and height under 153cm predicted osteoporosis with 91 per cent sensitivity but low specificity at 34 per cent.

In men, a model based on fracture history over 50, age 80 or over, weight of 68 kilos or less, and height of 167cm or less predicted osteoporosis with 92 per cent sensitivity but 30 per cent specificity.

Study leader Dr Julia Newton, senior lecturer in geriatric medicine at the University of Newcastle, said: 'Having a model might help GPs to prescribe bisphosphonates or other medication to fallers who are at risk of osteoporosis.'

Dr Peter Stott, a member of the scientific advisory committee at the National Osteoporosis Society and a GP in Tadworth, Surrey, said NICE recommended bisphosphonates for secondary prevention in women over 75 before confirmation with DEXA.

But he added: 'In terms of men if you get this combination you need to be looking for primary causes of osteoporosis and confirm with DEXA scans.'

The study was published in QJM this month.

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