• kyphosis;
  • hyperkyphosis;
  • kyphotic posture;
  • mortality;
  • cohort study

Objectives: To determine the association between hyperkyphotic posture and rate of mortality and cause-specific mortality in older persons.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Rancho Bernardo, California.

Participants: Subjects were 1,353 participants from the Rancho Bernardo Study who had measurements of kyphotic posture made at an osteoporosis visit between 1988 and 1991.

Measures: Kyphotic posture was measured as the number of 1.7-cm blocks that needed to be placed under the participant's head to achieve a neutral head position when lying supine on a radiology table. Demographic and clinical characteristics and health behaviors were assessed at a clinic visit using standard questionnaires. Participants were followed for an average of 4.2 years, with mortality and cause of death confirmed using review of death certificates.

Results: Hyperkyphotic posture, defined as requiring one or more blocks under the occiput to achieve a neutral head position while lying supine, was more common in men than women (44% in men, 22% of women, P<.0001). In age- and sex-adjusted analyses, persons with hyperkyphotic posture had a 1.44 greater rate of mortality (95% confidence interval (CI)=1.12–1.86, P=.005). In multiply adjusted models, the increased rate of death associated with hyperkyphotic posture remained significant (relative hazard=1.40, 95% CI=1.08–1.81, P=.012). In cause-specific mortality analyses, hyperkyphotic posture was specifically associated with an increased rate of death due to atherosclerosis.

Conclusion: Older men and women with hyperkyphotic posture have higher mortality rates.