There is a well-established relationship between bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture risk. Estimates of the relative risk of fracture from BMD have been derived mainly from short-term studies in which the correlation between BMD at assessment and BMD in later life ranged from 0.8 to 0.9. Because individuals lose bone mineral at different rates throughout later life, the long-term predictive value of low BMD is likely to decrease progressively with time. This article examines and formalizes the relationship between current BMD, correlation coefficients, and long-term risk. The loss of predictive value has important implications for early assessment and supports the view that measurements should be optimally targeted at the time interventions are contemplated and, when necessary, repeated in later life. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.
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