Published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the study used the internationally unique UK Biobank cohort to investigate links between bone and cardiovascular health. They used a combination of imaging and blood biomarker data to investigate the relationship in the largest sample of people reported to date.
Osteoporosis and heart disease are important public health problems. These conditions share a number of risk factors such as increasing age, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. Research shows that there may be links between the two conditions even after accounting for shared risk factors. This suggests that there may be biological pathways linking the two conditions, and investigating these links could reveal targets for novel drug therapies. However, current research studies lack objective measures of bone and heart health and are often limited to studies of small numbers of people for relatively short periods of time.
The researchers found that lower bone density was linked to greater arterial stiffness (indicating poor cardiovascular health) in both men and women. They also found that individuals with poor bone health had an increased risk of dying from ischaemic heart disease. These links were not explained by shared risk factors or traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Interestingly, they found that the mechanisms underlying the bone-heart relationship appeared different in men and women.