In The News: September 2019
Knee Injuries Increase Risk for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis develops when cartilage (the cushioning material that covers the ends of bones in joints) deteriorates. The reason this happens is not entirely understood, but several factors, including certain injuries, can increase the risk. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (May 2019) examined the connection between knee injuries and osteoarthritis. The researchers reviewed results of 53 studies that included a total of about 1 million adults who had an injury of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), an injury of the meniscus or a combination of knee injuries. (The ACL is a ligament in the knee, and the meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage between the two bones at the knee.) The odds of developing knee osteoarthritis were more than four times higher following an ACL injury and more than six times higher after a meniscal injury or combination of injuries.
One-Quarter of Adults in Early Middle Age May Have Low Bone Mass
Bones constantly change through a process of remodeling. Old bone is broken down and new bone forms. As you age, you start to lose more bone than you form, but for many people bones stay strong enough. A significant imbalance can lead to the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. This was thought to be a concern mostly for postmenopausal women. Results of a study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (June 2019) suggest that both men and women should be concerned. The study included 173 men and women ages 35 to 50 who answered questionnaires and underwent bone density tests. Twenty-eight percent of the men and 26% of the women had lower-than-normal bone mass (osteopenia), putting them at risk for osteoporosis. To preserve bone health, be sure to get adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, and engage in weight-bearing exercise.
Low Vitamin K Levels May Be Linked to Mobility Problems
Vitamin K has important functions in the body. Low levels have been linked to diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. A study published in the Journals of Gerontology (May 2019) examined a possible connection between vitamin K and mobility problems in older adults. Researchers examined levels of two markers of vitamin K in 1,323 adults ages 70 to 79. Mobility was assessed every six months for six to 10 years. Limited mobility was defined as difficulty walking one-fourth of a mile or climbing 10 steps without resting. Participants with the lowest levels of vitamin K1 in their blood were more likely to have limited mobility than those with higher levels. Further research on this is needed. The best food sources of vitamin K1 are green, leafy vegetables (such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard, broccoli and lettuce).
Deaths from Falls Rising Among Older Adults
The number of deaths from falls among older adults in the United States is rising, according to a study published in JAMA (June 2019). For the study, researchers analyzed data obtained from the federal government's National Center for Health Statistics. They found that the death rate from falls among adults ages 75 and older rose from 52 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 122 per 100,000 people in 2016. Death rates were highest among people ages 95 and over. In this age group, there were about 591 deaths from falls for every 100,000 people in 2016, compared with 42 deaths per 100,000 people ages 75 to 79. The reasons for the increase in death from falls are not fully understood. The study highlights the importance of taking measures to minimize the risks of falls and injuries. These include exercises to improve strength and balance, correction of vision problems, treatment of osteoporosis, and home safety.