If family members visit a loved one who is receiving home care and they notice that it seems like the older person is leaning forward to pay attention, it may actually be a spinal curvature that could lead to potential health problems.
Commonly known as "dowager's hump," healthcare professional
s know the curvature near the neck as hyperkyphosis, and recent research from UCLA suggests that it may be a sign of future fractures or other conditions.
The more severe the curve, the researchers found in reviewing 610 patients in a study on osteoporotic fractures, the higher the death rate for women, even adjusting for outside factors like age.
"Just being bent forward may be an important clinical finding that should serve as a trigger to seek medical evaluation for possible spinal osteoporosis, as vertebral fractures more often than not are a silent disease," said primary investigator Dr Deborah Kado.
The research builds on previous findings linking those with dowager's hump and the spinal fractures that cause it to medical conditions leading to increased mortality, as well as a higher risk for falls.