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Measuring forearm bone density instead of lumbar spine bone density improves the sensitivity of diagnosing osteoporosis in older adults with cardiovascular diseases: Data from SARCOS study

Bone Rep. 2021 Oct 4;15:101134.

Introduction: In older individuals with cardiovascular diseases, it has been challenging to diagnose osteoporosis due to aortic calcification and degenerative processes in the spine of older adults, especially in very old adults.

Aim: To assess whether the distal forearm BMD with the proximal femur BMD has greater sensitivity for the diagnosis of osteoporosis than the lumbar spine BMD with the proximal femur BMD.

Methods: We evaluated 515 older adults with cardiovascular disease from the SARCOS study and stratified them into under and over 80-year-old age groups and according to gender. Two diagnostic criteria were used to assess osteoporosis, SPF (lumbar spine and proximal femur BMD) and DFF (distal forearm and proximal femur BMD), which were compared with the multiple bone sites (MS) criteria (lumbar spine, distal radius, femoral neck, and total femur BMD).

Results: 43.9% were aged ≥80 years. Osteoporosis by SPF was diagnosed in 34% (n = 175), by DFF in 42.2% (n = 216), and by MS in 46.8% (n = 241). The characteristics of the three groups were similar. For every 100 older individuals with osteoporosis based on MS, 27 were not diagnosed by the SPF, and nine were not diagnosed by DFF (p = 0.001). The SPF did not diagnose osteoporosis in 23/100 in older adults aged <80 years, while DFF did not diagnose 16/100 (p.ns). In adults aged ≥80 years, the SPF did not identify osteoporosis in 31/100 older adults, while the DFF failed to identify it in only 5/100 (p < 0.001). In men and women aged ≥80 years, DFF showed higher sensitivity for the diagnosis of osteoporosis compared to the SPF criterion.

Conclusion: In the elderly population with cardiovascular disease evaluated in our study, the use of distal forearm BMD instead of lumbar spine BMD, associated with proximal femur BMD, showed higher sensitivity for the diagnosis of osteoporosis, regardless of gender, and especially among the very older adults.

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