Definition Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a disease characterized by low bone mass and structural deterioration of bone tissue, leading to bone fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist. Prevalence Osteoporosisis a major public health threat for 28 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women. In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease.is a major public health threat for 28 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women. In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease.
Cost The estimated national direct expenditures (hospitals and nursing homes) for osteoporosis and associated fractures was $17 billion ($47 million each day) and the cost is rising. Symptoms Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because bone loss occurs without symptoms. People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes a bone to fracture or a vertebra to collapse. Collapsed vertebra may initially be felt or seen in the form posture or dowager's hump.
Risk FactorsCertain people are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others. Factors that increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis are called "risk factors." The following risk factors have been identified:
DetectionSpecialized tests called bone density tests can measure bone density in various sites of the body. A bone density test can:
Prevention Building strong bones, especially before the age of 35, can be the best defense against developing osteoporosis, and a healthy lifestyle can be critically important for keeping bones strong. So, to help prevent osteoporosis:
Fractures The most typical sites of fractures related to osteoporosis are the hip, spine, wrist, and ribs, although the disease can affect any bone in the body. Forty percent of all women will have at least one spinal fracture by the time they reach age 80. Spinal osteoporosis is eight times more likely to afflict women than men. The rate of hip fracture is four times higher in women than men; however, the death rate for men within one year after a hip fracture is 26 percent higher than in women. A woman's risk of hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. About 300,000 Americans age 55 and over are admitted to hospitals with hip fractures annually. Osteoporosis is the underlying cause of many of these injuries. Among those who were living independently prior to a hip fracture, 15 to 25 percent are still in long-term care institutions a year after the injury.
Treatment and CareAlthough there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are treatments available to help stop further bone loss and fractures:
For more information: National Osteoporosis Foundation