Osteoporosis is the most common disorder of bone metabolism affecting 1 in 2 women and 1 in 8 men over age 50. Today, over 10 million individuals have or are at risk of osteoporosis—80% are women. Almost 34 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis related fractures resulted in an estimated at $20 billion to the healthcare industry.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, American's health depends on prevention. “Prevention is something that health plan executives are very interested in because a great deal of what we pay for today in the high cost of health care and the disease burden is preventable”.
The number of cases of osteoporosis is expected to rise significantly as the population ages. Yet only a relatively small number of men and women with osteoporosis have been diagnosed or treated.
The National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment study published by Columbia University of 200,000 female patients over age 50, living in 35 different states, found:
• 40% had undiagnosed osteopenia (low bone mass).
• 7% had undiagnosed osteoporosis.
• In a follow up study after one year, it was found that the fracture rate in women with osteoporosis was four times higher than expected in normal women. In women with undiagnosed osteopenia (low bone mass) the fracture rate was two times higher than normal women.
One out of every two women and one in eight men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in her or his lifetime.
Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures nationally every year, including 300,000 hip fractures.
Of all the fractures , hip fractures have the greatest rates of post fracture deaths and socioeconomic impact.
• One in five patients is no longer living within one year following an osteoporotic hip fracture.
• 50% of those people experiencing a hip fracture will be unable to walk without assistance, and
• 28% will require long-term care.
Because bone loss occurs without symptoms until fracture, osteoporosis is often called a silent killer. Patients most often become aware they have osteoporosis when a bump or fall causes a fracture. The fractures resulting from osteoporosis can be very painful, and in many cases disabling. Still, many women and men believe that if they simply watch their diet and exercise regularly, they won't be affected.
Alertness matters. Not enough healthcare providers are vigilant to the warning signs of osteoporosis. By including proactive care for bone health as part of your patients' preventive care program, you have a real opportunity as a physician to make an impact on your patients' health.