Study: Postmenopause Fracture Risk Predicted by Cognitive Processes

Fact checked

By Menopause Now Editorial Team | Updated: Jul 06, 2021


Various psychological conditions, such as anxiety and depression, have been previously linked to fracture risk predictions in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.1 The role of cognitive predictors on fracture risk, however, has not been studied in depth yet.

This cross-sectional study explored whether postmenopausal risk fracture could be predicted by executive functions as well as psychological distress and physical performance. 

Study Design

Sixty postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and osteopenia participated in this study. It was conducted at the Outpatient Clinic for the Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis belonging to the University of Messina, Italy.

Researchers took various assessments, including executive function tests, psychological distress questionnaires, bone mineral density, handgrip strength, and physical performance exams. They also evaluated women's 10-year major and hip fracture risk.

Authors published their findings in the 2019 edition of the Aging Clinical and Experimental Research journal.

Study Findings

In the context of executive functions, a higher risk for major fractures was seen in women with slower switching ability and a reduced verbal span. On the other hand, a higher hip fracture risk was negatively associated with hand grip strength and verbal working memory. 

In terms of bone mineral density, participants with reduced verbal span and high depression scores had lower bone mineral density at the lumbar spine.

Regarding physical performance, women with reduced motor performance had decreased switching ability and took longer to complete cognitive tasks.

In regards to women's psychological status, depression and anxiety levels were also associated with a higher risk of fractures.

What Does It Mean?

The results of this trial suggest that postmenopausal fractures risk can be predicted by women's executive functions, most notably verbal working memory and psychological features.

Identifying these and other early markers of low bone mineral density and fracture risk can bring tremendous benefits for postmenopausal women and their healthcare providers. Using these markers as screening tools could potentially contribute to improving women's health and quality of life in that life stage.

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