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Women's Height Loss May Indicate Spinal Fracture

For better detection, study suggests, doctors should not use patient estimates

MONDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Height loss in postmenopausal women could be a sign of a spinal fracture, says a new study that included 8,610 women over the age of 60.

"We observed a mean loss of height of 4.5 cm [1.8 inches] since early adulthood in a large population of postmenopausal women in primary care practices," wrote Dr. Karine Briot, of Cochin Hospital and Paris Descartes University in France, and her colleagues. "We found the risk of an existing vertebral fracture was significantly higher among patients with a height loss of at least 4 cm [1.6 inches]."

Measurement of height loss could be an accurate method for detecting vertebral fractures in postmenopausal women, they concluded.

The researchers noted that the actual height of the women was different from what the women reported. This means, they said, that doctors need to measure postmenopausal women's height instead of relying on patient estimates.

The study is published March 22 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about age-related body changes.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, March 22, 2010

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