The risk of hip fracture is significantly higher in stroke patients than in other individuals of the same age, and is thought to be associated with increased blood levels of a substance called homocysteine, Dr. Yoshihiro Sato and others note in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.
Because folate and mecobalamin (vitamin B12) reduce homocysteine levels, the team thought that supplements of these nutrients could reduce fracture risk.
Sato, at Mitate Hospital in Tagawa, and colleagues studied 628 patients aged 65 years or more who had residual paralysis on one side of the body a year or more after having a stroke. The participants were randomly assigned to take folate and mecobalamin daily, or inactive placebos.
During 2 years of follow-up, the number of falls in each group was virtually the same, but there were only six hip fractures in the supplement group compared with 27 in the placebo group.