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- Osteoporosis facts
- What is osteoporosis?
- What are osteoporosis causes and risk factors?
- What are osteoporosis symptoms and signs?
- What are the consequences of osteoporosis?
- Why is osteoporosis an important public health issue?
- What factors determine bone strength?
- What tests do health care professionals use in the diagnosis of osteoporosis?
- What types of health care professionals treat osteoporosis?
- Who should have bone density testing?
- What is the treatment for osteoporosis, and can osteoporosis be prevented?
- Exercise, quitting cigarettes, and curtailing alcohol
- Calcium supplements for osteoporosis
- Vitamin D for osteoporosis
- Can adding certain foods to one's diet help to prevent osteoporosis?
- Are there foods to avoid when it comes to osteoporosis?
- Hormone therapy (menopausal hormone therapy)
- Medications that prevent bone loss and breakdown
- Choosing an osteoporosis medication
- Prevention of osteoporosis due to long-term corticosteroids
- Monitoring osteoporosis therapy
- Prevention of hip fractures in elderly people with osteoporosis
- What are complications of osteoporosis?
- What is the prognosis (outlook) for patients with osteoporosis?
Quick GuideWhat Is Osteoporosis? Treatment, Symptoms, Medication
Why is osteoporosis an important public health issue?
- In the U.S., 44 million people have low bone density (10 million have osteoporosis, and 34 million have osteopenia). This amounts to 55% of the U.S. population aged 50 years and older.
- One in two Caucasian women will fracture a bone due to osteoporosis in her lifetime.
- In the U.S., direct health care costs from osteoporosis fractures amount to a billion dollars, without even taking into account the indirect costs, such as lost days at work and productivity.
- Approximately 20% of those who experience a hip fracture will die in the year following the fracture.
- One-third of hip-fracture patients are discharged to a nursing home within the year after fracture.
- Only one-third of hip-fracture patients regain their pre-fracture level of function.
With the aging of America, the number of people with osteoporosis-related fractures will increase exponentially. The pain, suffering, and overall impact on health and economic costs will be enormous.
What factors determine bone strength?
Bone mass (bone density) is determined by the amount of bone present in the skeletal structure. Generally, the higher the bone density, the stronger the bones. Bone density is greatly influenced by genetic factors, which in turn are sometimes modified by environmental factors and medications. For example, men have a higher bone density than women, and African Americans have a higher bone density than Caucasian or Asian Americans.
Normally, bone density accumulates during childhood and reaches a peak by around age 25. Bone density then is maintained for about 10 years. After age 35, both men and women will normally lose 0.3%-0.5% of their bone density per year as part of the aging process.
Estrogen is important in maintaining bone density in women. When estrogen levels drop after menopause, loss of bone density accelerates. During the first five to 10 years after menopause, women can suffer up to 2%-4% loss of bone density per year! This is predominantly attributed to insufficient estrogen and can result in the loss of up to 25%-30% of their bone density during that time period. The accelerated bone loss after menopause is a major cause of osteoporosis in women, referred to as postmenopausal osteoporosis. This is true even in women who seem to otherwise have normal health.