Fast Facts on Osteoporosis
Back to Health Screenings
The cited text below is provided for educational/informational purposes only and
is not intended for providing professional or medical advice. It should not be used
to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional
care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult a
Information below is from the National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disorders
- National Resource Center Website
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, especially of the hip, spine, and wrist.
Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans.
In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals are estimated to already have the disease
and almost 34 million more are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at
increased risk for osteoporosis.
Of the 10 million Americans estimated to have osteoporosis, eight million are women
and 2 million are men.
34 million Americans, or 55% of the people 50 years of age and older, have low bone
mass, which puts them at increased risk of developing osteoporosis and related fractures.
Significant risk has been reported in people of all ethnic backgrounds.
- While osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person's disease, it can strike
at any age.
Eighty percent of those affected by osteoporosis are women.
Five percent of non-Hispanic black women over age 50 are estimated to have osteoporosis;
an estimated additional 35 percent have low bone mass that puts them at risk of
Ten percent of Hispanic women age 50 and older are estimated to have osteoporosis,
and 49 percent are estimated to have low bone mass.
- Twenty percent of non-Hispanic white and Asian women age 50 and older are estimated
to have osteoporosis, and 52 percent are estimated to have low bone mass.
Twenty percent of those affected by osteoporosis are men.
Seven percent of non-Hispanic white and Asian men age 50 and older are estimated
to have osteoporosis, and 35 percent are estimated to have low bone mass.
Four percent of non-Hispanic black men age 50 and older are estimated to have osteoporosis,
and 19 percent are estimated to have low bone mass.
- Three percent of Hispanic men age 50 and older are estimated to have osteoporosis,
and 23 percent are estimated to have low bone mass.
One in two women and one in four men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related
fracture in their lifetime.
- Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures annually, including:
300,000 hip fractures; and approximately
700,000 vertebral fractures;
250,000 wrist fractures; and
- 300,000 fractures at other sites.
The estimated national direct expenditures (hospitals and nursing homes) for osteoporotic
and associated fractures was $17 billion in 2001 ($47 million each day) - and the
cost is rising.
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 fracture or a vertebra to collapse.
Collapsed vertebrae may initially be felt or seen in the form of severe back pain,
loss of height, or spinal deformities such as kyphosis (stooped posture).
Certain 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:
Personal history of fracture after age 50
Current low bone mass
History of fracture in a 1st degree relative
Being female Being thin and/or having a small frame
A family history of osteoporosis
Estrogen deficiency as a result of menopause, especially early or surgically induced
Abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
Low lifetime calcium intake
Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants
Low testosterone levels in men
An inactive lifestyle
Current cigarette smoking
Excessive use of alcohol
- Being Caucasian or Asian, although African Americans and Hispanic Americans are
at significant risk as well
Women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the five to seven years following
menopause, making them more susceptible to osteoporosis.
Specialized tests called bone density (BMD) tests can measure bone density in various
sites of the body. A bone density test can:
Detect osteoporosis before a fracture occurs.
Predict your chances of fracturing in the future.
- DXA BMD can determine rate of bone loss and monitor the response to treatment.
By about age 20, the average woman has acquired 98% of her skeletal mass. Building
strong bones during childhood and adolescence can be the best defense against developing
osteoporosis later. There are four steps to prevent osteoporosis. No one step alone
is enough to prevent osteoporosis but all four may. They are:
A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D;
A healthy lifestyle with no smoking or excessive alcohol intake; and
- Bone density testing and medication, when appropriate.
The most typical sites of fracture related to osteoporosis are the hip, spine, wrist,
and ribs, although the disease can affect any bone in the body.
The rate of hip fractures is two to three times higher in women than men; however,
the one-year mortality following a hip fracture is nearly twice as high for men
as for women.
A woman's risk of hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine
and ovarian cancer.
In 1991, about 300,000 Americans age 45 and over were admitted to hospitals with
hip fractures. Osteoporosis was the underlying cause of most of these injuries.
An average of 24 percent of hip fracture patients aged 50 and over die in the year
following their fracture.
One-fourth of those who were ambulatory before their hip fracture require long-term
At six months after hip fracture, only 15% of hip fracture patients can walk across
a room unaided.
- White women 65 or older have twice the incidence of fractures as African-American
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, the following medications are approved
by the FDA for postmenopausal women to prevent and/or treat osteoporosis:
Alendronate (brand name Fosamax®)
Calcitonin (brand name Miacalcin®)
- Risedronate (brand name Actonel®)
Estrogens (brand names, such as Climara® Estrace®, Estraderm®, Estratab®, Ogen®,
Ortho-Est®, Vivelle®, Premarin®, and others)
- Estrogens and Progestins (brand names, such as Activella™, FemHrt®, Premphase®,
Prempro®, and others)
- Teriparatide (brand name Forteo®)
- Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs)
- Raloxifene (brand name Evista®)
Alendronate is approved as a treatment for osteoporosis in men and is approved for
treatment of glucocorticoid (steroid)-induced osteoporosis in men and women.
Risedronate is approved for prevention and treatment of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis
in men and women.
Parathyroid hormone is approved for treatment of men with osteoporosis who are at
increased risk for fracture.
Treatments under investigation include other parathyroid hormones, sodium fluoride,
vitamin D metabolites, and other bisphosphonates and selective estrogen receptor
Medical experts agree that osteoporosis is highly preventable. However, if the toll
of osteoporosis is to be reduced, the commitment to osteoporosis research must be
significantly increased. It is reasonable to project that with increased research,
the future for definitive treatment and prevention of osteoporosis is very bright.
Information above is from the National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Disorders
- National Resource Center Website
Island Drug uses the Achilles Express Bone Ultasonometer to screen for bone
density through the heel. The machine uses high frequequncy sound waves (ultrasound)
to evaluate bone status in the heel. The measurements are performed while the patient
is seated, with one bare foot placed on the foot positioner. The screening is non-invasive
and painless. The results are available within one or two minutes for the customer
to take home. We also will mail the results to the customer's physician upon request.
We provide a handout with important information on risks for osteoporosis, weight
bearing exercises, calcium rich foods, and how calcium is used in the body.