Osteoporosis is a major medical problem affecting 8 million women and 2 million men in the United States. An additional 34 million Americans have low bone mass. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million people in the United States experience a fragility fracture secondary to osteoporosis, resulting in an annual cost of $18 billion1. The problem of osteoporosis is now reaching epidemic proportions with the rapidly aging population2. One-half of all women and one-third of all men will sustain a fragility fracture in their lifetime3.
There is a huge cost associated with osteoporosis in terms of morbidity, mortality, and the financial impact on society4. The most devastating complication of osteoporosis is a hip fracture. According to the most recent statistics published in the 2004 United States Surgeon General's report on osteoporosis, of the 325,000 patients who sustain a hip fracture each year, 24% end up in nursing homes, 50% never reach their previous functional capacity, and 25% die within the first year after the fracture2. The first-year mortality rate after a hip fracture is almost twice as high in men as in women (30% compared with 17%)5. The mortality rate due to osteoporosis-related fractures is greater than the rates for breast cancer and cervical cancer combined6.
Only 20% of patients with a previous hip or other fragility fracture receive treatment for osteoporosis7-12. For example, in one study, between 12% and 25% of patients with a hip fracture had testing of bone density, fewer than 25% were given calcium and vitamin-D supplements, and fewer than 10% were treated with effective anti-osteoporosis medications13. There are certainly many missed opportunities for fracture prevention. The World Health Organization now has a tool to assess a …
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