Q:What is osteoporosis?
A: After reaching peak bone mass (also referred to as Bone Density) at around age 30, our bones begin to lose mass little by little as we age. Osteoporosis is diagnosed when bone mass levels become critically low, whereby the bones become brittle, making them prone to breakage, often with little or no trauma.
Called the “Silent Epidemic,” osteoporosis tends to strike later in life with around 55% of the 50 and older population affected. Visible symptoms may include loss of height along with curvature of the upper back.
This is the reality for millions of Americans: 1 in 2 women and up to 1 in 4 men over the age of 50 are at risk for an osteoporosis-related fracture during their lifetime. By 2010, an estimated 52 million Americans over the age of 50 will be affected by osteoporosis—12 million will be diagnosed with the disease and 40 million more will have low bone mass, putting them at increased risk for the disease.
By 2020, an estimated 61 million Americans over the age of 50 will be affected by osteoporosis—14 million will be diagnosed with the disease and 47 million more will have low bone mass, putting them at increased risk for the disease.
The number of women over the age of 50 and diagnosed with osteoporosis or at risk for the disease will increase from close to 30 million in 2002 to more than 35 million in 2010, and around 41 million in 2020.
Q: What is an osteoporotic fracture?
A: An osteoporotic fracture occurs with minimal trauma, such as a force equal to or less than falling from a standing height. Most common fractured areas are hips and wrists with 85% of wrist fractures occurring in women.
Fractures can set off a downward spiral of events that affect overall health and well-being. In addition to pain and short-term disability, fractures can have a long-term impact on quality of life. The annual number of hip fractures could double or even triple by 2040.
Each year, osteoporotic fractures in the U.S. lead to:
The annual number of osteoporosis-related fractures is expected to rise by almost 50% to more than 3 million by 2025.
Q: Who is at risk for osteoporosis?
A: About 40% of postmenopausal Caucasian* women are expected to sustain an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime. One in five of those women are expected to die within one year of the fracture. Of the survivors, nearly half are so disabled that they are unable to resume their daily activities. In older women the incidence of osteoporotic fractures is greater than the incidence of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.
In women over 45 years of age, osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in the hospital than many other diseases, including diabetes, heart attack, and breast cancer.
80% of individuals at high risk who have already had at least one osteoporotic fracture are neither identified nor treated.
*Although the exact statistics for non-Caucasian women are not available, they are not expected to be much better.
Contributing Risk Factors for Osteoporosis:
Q: What are the costs of osteoporosis?
A: Osteoporosis takes a huge economic toll on both individuals and society. Fractures from osteoporosis cost the U.S. nearly $19 billion each year and that number is only going to rise as our population ages.
The annual number of hip fractures could double or even triple by 2040, causing costs to rise to as much as $25 billion by 2025.
The cumulative cost of incident fractures is predicted to rise from $209 billion during the 10-year period of 2006 to 2015, to $228 billion for the 10-year period of 2016 to 2025.
Q: Can osteoporosis be prevented?
A: Researchers are currently exploring new ways to prevent and reverse bone loss so that future generations won’t have to worry about the devastating consequences of fractures. Advances in treatment have already changed the way people view an osteoporosis diagnosis. Further research could make osteoporosis-related fractures a thing of the past.
Imaging technologies and the discovery of new classes of pharmacologic treatment are allowing physicians to closely monitor bone mineral density (BMD) and promptly treat individuals with low BMD scores—stopping bone loss before it leads to fracture. Recent research on ultrasound technology could lead to a low-cost option for diagnosing bone mass.
Fractures do not have to be an accepted part of aging. To lessen your chances of osteoporosis, follow these 5 simple steps: