Hot Flash Severity May Indicate Higher Hip Fracture Rate

January 5, 2015
Eileen Oldfield Associate Editor

Moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats during menopause are associated with lower bone mineral density and higher hip fracture rates, new research suggests.

Moderate to severe hot flashes and night sweats during menopause are associated with lower bone mineral density and higher hip fracture rates, new research suggests.

“Our findings suggest women who exhibit moderate or severe menopausal symptoms are more likely to have issues with bone health than their peers,” said Carolyn J. Crandall, MD, MS, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a press release. “This is the first large cohort study to examine the relationship between menopausal symptoms and bone health in menopausal women.”

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, analyzed data from 23,573 participants aged 50 to 79 years in the Women’s Health Initiative clinical trial. Researchers tracked participants for 8 years, and asked about their menopausal symptoms during their initial visit. During the follow-up period, researchers monitored for fractures, and also measured bone mineral density in 4867 participants for a sub-study.

Participants who reported having moderate or severe hot flashes when they entered the study were more likely to fracture a hip during the follow-up period than those who did not experience hot flashes. Furthermore, women with moderate to severe hot flashes also had lower bone mass density at the neck and spine than women without symptoms, after researchers adjusted for age, body mass index, and demographic factors.

Although additional research is necessary, the findings may help clinicians tailor the advice they offer patients experiencing these menopausal symptoms.

“More research is needed to illuminate the connection between bone health and menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes,” Dr. Crandall said in a press release. “Improved understanding would help clinicians advise women on how to better prevent osteoporosis and other bone conditions. Women who have hot flashes and want to protect their bones may benefit from healthy lifestyle habits, such as avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, exercising, and getting sufficient calcium and vitamin D.”