Breaking a hip is a huge health threat for the elderly. In fact, 14% to 36% of seniors die within one year of suffering a hip fracture… many others experience a profound, and sometimes permanent, loss of independence and decrease in quality of life. Some doctors say that risks are minimized when surgery is done as soon as possible after a hip fracture, but other doctors argue that it is safer to optimize a patient’s medical condition before subjecting him or her to surgery, even if that takes several days or more. Who’s right?

A study published in Canadian Medical Association Journal provides more clues. Researchers analyzed data from 16 studies involving a total of 13,478 hip fracture patients ages 60 and older. Mortality data was adjusted for patients’ ages and type and/or severity of illness at the time of surgery. Findings: Compared with delayed surgery, early surgery (defined as surgery done within 24 to 72 hours of the injury, depending on the study) was associated with a 19% lower risk for death…a 52% lower risk for pressure sores (a complication of prolonged bed rest)…and a 41% lower risk for pneumonia.