New research has suggested there could be similar causes between heart disease and osteoporosis.
A team from the University of Southampton scientists have discovered a link between coronary heart disease and osteoporosis, suggesting both conditions could have similar causes.
The researchers were some of the first to use a special scanning technique, which allowed them to determine that people with a history of heart disease had substantially lower cortical volumetric bone mineral density in their wrist bone (the distal radius) than those without.
Using an innovative technique called 'high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography', the team from Southampton's Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit were able to see multiple layers of the wrist bone.
This was similar to how a 3D printer might build up layers of an object. The cross section visuals were then used to determine whether there were symptoms of osteoporosis present. The condition weakens the bones and makes them more vulnerable to fractures and breaks.
Published in Osteoporosis International, the study looked at 350 men and women between the ages of 70 and 85 years old. All of the participants were enrolled on the Hertfordshire Cohort Study.
Using the new technique, the study determined that cortical volumetric bone mineral density was lower among participants with coronary heart disease (or ischaemic heart disease) such as angina, heart attack or heart failure. The researchers also found that this effect was prominent in more women than in men.
Professor Cyrus Cooper, director of the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit and professor of Rheumatology at the University of Southampton, said: "This is one of the first studies to use this technology to explore bone geometry, density and microstructure in patients with heart disease.
"The findings highlight the need to evaluate a history of heart disease in the management of osteoporosis in older people and further research is also needed to provide a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms which explain the link between osteoporosis and heart disease."
It is hoped that these latest findings from the team at Southampton will enable people to better treat and prevent osteoporosis and other bone conditions, but further investigation is needed to determine the links between bone weakness and heart disease.
Dr Julien Paccou, clinical research fellow at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, added that the work, along with others, show that people with a history of cardiovascular disease tend to have weaker bones.
However, he said that further research was needed to better understand the association to improve bone health.
Posted by Edward Bartel
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