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Heart Failure Linked to Osteoporosis

Recent findings from study conducted by researchers at University of Alberta, Canada points that heart failure patients are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis. In a study that observed 45, 500 adults over a period of ten years, it was found that heart failure is linked to thinning and weakening of the bones over a period of time and thus heart failure patients should be screened for osteoporosis at regular intervals.

Of the population observed in the study, approximately 1,840 persons had recently had one episode of heart failure. The whole population studied were screened for bone mineral density, many of who were having the test done the first time in their lives. After a follow up of a decade, data showed that those with heart failure were associated with at least a 30% increased risk of developing major fractures due to weak bones.

According to the study lead Dr. Sumit Majumdar, Professor, Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta, “Our study demonstrates for the first time that heart failure and thinning of bones go hand in hand.  Understanding the mechanism between heart failure and osteoporosis might lead to new treatments for both conditions.” (1)

The study published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism had recommendations those heart failure patients who undergo frequent chest x-rays should also undergo osteoporosis screening checking out the status of bone density at the spine and hips. Majumdar added, “Heart failure patients get a lot of X-rays and they often incidentally show many fractures of the spine that would automatically provide an indication of severe osteoporosis and need for treatment.” (2)

Of the 45,000 people studied, 92% were women and the mean age of the population was 66 years old. The main objective of the study was to observe the time to major osteoprotic fractures and related events. Between the periods 1998 to 2009, the study collected data on:

  • Comorbidities with heart failure
  • Risk factors of osteoporosis
  • Results of bone mineral density of the patients
  • Medications

A five year observation period showed that as many as 2,703 incident major osteoporotic fractures occurred in the total population studied. Out of this 10% of the incident major fractures occurred in patients who had incidences of heart failure compared to only 5% of osteoporotic fractures in those without heart failure. However, the  association between heart failure and incident fracture weakened with adjustment for osteoporosis risk factors, comorbidities and medications. Similar results were found for total hip bone mineral density.

Majumdar and colleagues were of the opinion that the study has opened new avenues for research, such as examining mechanistic links between heart failure and osteoporosis. Study results also indicate that a patient diagnosed with heart failure should receive more attention when it comes to their bone health.



  1. Heart Failure, Osteoporosis Go ‘Hand-in-Hand’: Researchers; MedicinePlus; April 2012;
  2. HF heightened risk for major bone fractures in patients with osteoporosis; Healio Cardiology Today; April 2012;
  3. Heart failure linked to thinner bones and fractures; Eureka Alert; April 2012;

Abstract of the technical report may be accessed at:

  1. Heart Failure Is a Clinically and Densitometrically Independent Risk Factor for Osteoporotic Fractures: Population-Based Cohort Study of 45,509 Subjects; The Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM); April 2012;

Author: Monica Straith, BS

Monica is the PR and Outreach Manager and Fitness Lead at AlgaeCal. She’s an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist, and has a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she played varsity soccer for four years. Monica pulls from her experience in athletics and health to contribute to AlgaeCal and has also been featured on myfitnesspal blog, Prevention, and Huffington Post.