The researchers study indicate that an individual's history of past falls can help predict their risk of bone fractures, independent of bone mineral density and other clinical factors. The study findings were published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

Although low bone mineral density is a major risk factor for fragility fracture, the majority of such low-trauma fracture events occur as a result of a fall from standing height or less. 

Conversely, the number of falls is much greater than the number of consequent fractures with only 5% to 10% of falls in older adults leading to skeletal injury.

Interventions aimed at reducing falls have usually been unsuccessful at reducing fractures, probably partly as a consequence of the low falls to injury ratio. 

Notwithstanding, prior falls have been found to be a risk factor for future fracture in a number of cohorts. With the advent of the FRAX fracture risk assessment tool.

Evaluation of an individual's probability of sustaining a hip or major osteoporotic fracture over a 10-year time period is now readily undertaken using a small number of easily ascertainable clinical risk factors and BMD if available.

The findings were made in the large Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS) cohort, comprising 4,365 men in United States, 1,823 in Sweden, and 1,669 in Hong Kong, with an average age ranging from 72.4 to 75.4 years, and average follow-up time from 8.7 to 10.8 years.

Even after accounting for results from the Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX) and/or bone mineral density tests, past falls were associated with a 63%-71% increased risk of a new fracture occurring.

Whilst the predictive value of falls for future fracture is well-established, these new findings—the result of a successful ongoing collaboration across UK, Sweden, Hong Kong, and the US, inform approaches to clinical fracture risk assessment.

The lead author Prof. Nicholas Harvey said, the study demonstrating that the fracture risk associated with prior falls is relevant over and above the risk identified by the current global standard approach of FRAX and bone mineral density.