Thin and brittle bones have been closely associated with women’s heart disease risk, with thinning of the lower (lumbar) spine, top of the thigh bone (femoral neck), and hip particularly predictive of an increased heart attack and stroke risk, suggests a study from leading heart journal. Osteoporosis, frequently called brittle bone disease, is common, especially among women following menopause. It’s characterized by diminished and thinning bones and increased fracture risk.

A previously published study suggests that individuals with osteoporosis frequently have atherosclerosis (artery hardening and narrowing), indicating that both conditions might be connected. The probability of cardiovascular death is significantly greater in women (21%) than in men (15%), and also, the predictive threat frame for heart disease is skewed towards men. Therefore variables that better identify women at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke are required, say the investigators.

Millions of women are screened for osteoporosis using a DXA scan. Therefore this evaluation could offer a perfect opportunity to recognize any prospective associations between thinning atherosclerosis and bones and those women most in danger of cardiovascular disease, without incurring any extra expenses or additional radiation exposure, they include.

To test out this, the researchers examined the medical records of 50-80-year-old women who’d experienced a DXA scan to test for osteoporosis in Seoul National University Bundang Hospital between 2005 and 2014.

After excluding people who already had heart disease and other severe illnesses at the time of this scan, the last analysis comprised 12,681 women whose health was monitored for a mean of 9 years, utilizing national registry information. Overall, 468 women (around 4%) had a heart attack or stroke during the observation interval. A few 237 (2%) died. 

Thinning and weakened bones, expressed as a very low bone mineral density score in the lumbar spine, femoral neck, and hip, were independently related to an increased (16% to 38%) risk of heart attack or stroke due to potentially influential factors, such as age, higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, smoking, along with a preceding bone fracture. An official diagnosis of osteoporosis was also independently associated with a 79% greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Adding bone mineral density score or even a clinical diagnosis of osteoporosis or osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis) to clinical risk factors more efficiently called danger than clinical risk factors independently. 

It is not clear precisely how obesity and atherosclerosis may be linked. However, long-term inflammation and cumulative oxidative stress have crucial functions in both adrenal bone reduction and atherosclerosis, while sexual hormones, particularly estrogen, help modulate bone regeneration as well as the circulatory system, describe the researchers.

That is an observational study, and as such, can not establish cause, just correlation. And the investigators admit several limitations to their findings: the study included women from a medical center in South Korea, so the outcomes may not be more widely applicable.

And they were not able to collect possibly important information on physical activity levels or steroid usage, each of which influences bone mineral density and cardiovascular disease risk.

But they conclude that DXA scanning is widely utilized to display for osteopenia and osteoporosis in older women. The significant association between bone mineral density and a greater chance of cardiovascular disease gives large-scale hazard evaluation in women without further cost and radiation exposure.

In a related editorial, Dr. Dexter Canoy and Dr. Kazem Rahimi of the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health, University of Oxford, concur that additional study in different configurations is justified.

However, they indicate, maybe it’s high time to establish how bone health impacts vasculature and comprehend the underlying pathophysiology that joins osteoporotic and atherosclerotic problems. In doing this, we may discover new approaches to enhance the treatment of, and take care of, the hearts, the minds, and hearts of women and men.