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Keywords:

  • elderly adults;
  • epidemiology;
  • hip fracture;
  • time trends

Abstract

This epidemiologic study determined the trend in the number and incidence (per 100,000 persons) of hip fracture among older adults in Finland, an EU country with a well-defined white population of 5.2 million, between 1970 and 2004. The results show that the alarming rise in the fracture incidence from early 1970s until late 1990s has been now followed by declining fracture rates. Reasons for this are largely unknown, but a cohort effect toward a healthier aging population and increased average body weight and improved functional ability among elderly Finns could partly explain the phenomenon.

Introduction: Although osteoporotic fractures of older adults are said to be a major public health concern in modern societies with aging populations, fresh nationwide information on their secular trends is limited.

Materials and Methods: This epidemiologic study determined the current trend in the number and incidence (per 100,000 persons) of hip fracture among older adults in Finland, an EU country with a well-defined white population of 5.2 million, by taking into account all persons ≥50 years of age who were admitted to our hospitals for primary treatment of such fracture in 1970–2004.

Results: The number of hip fractures among ≥50-year-old Finns rose very constantly between 1970 (1857 fractures) and 1997 (7122 fractures), but since then, the rise has leveled off (7083 fractures in 2004). After this and because of a continuous rise in population at risk, the crude incidence of hip fracture (showing a clear rise in 1970–1997) decreased between 1997 and 2004, from 438 (per 100,000 persons) in 1997 to 374 in 2004. Concerning the age-adjusted fracture incidence, findings were similar. Until 1997, the age-adjusted incidence of hip fracture clearly increased in both women and men, but thereafter, this incidence declined in both sexes: in women, from 494 in 1997 to 412 in 2004, and in men, from 238 in 1997 to 223 in 2004.

Conclusions: The rise in the incidence of hip fracture in Finland from the early 1970s until the late 1990s has been followed by declining fracture rates. Exact reasons for this are unknown, but a cohort effect toward a healthier aging population and increased average body weight and improved functional ability among elderly Finns cannot be ruled out.