Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a condition that results when
bones lose calcium and thickness. Because of this thinning of the bones, a
person with osteoporosis is at increased risk for fractures (breaks). Most
people are not aware they have osteoporosis until a fracture occurs.
Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for more than
28 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women. In the United States today,
10 million individuals already have the disease and 18 million more have low
bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis.
Here are some facts other about osteoporosis:
- Eighty percent of those affected by osteoporosis are women.
- Eight million American women and 2 million men have osteoporosis, and
millions more have low bone density.
- One in two white women and one in eight white men over age 50 will have
an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetimes.
- Ten percent of African American women over age 50 have osteoporosis. An
additional 30 percent have low bone density that puts them at risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Although osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person's disease, it can strike at any age.
- Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures annually, including about:
--300,000 hip fractures
--700,000 vertebral (spine) fractures
--250,000 wrist fractures
--300,000 fractures at other sites
Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because
bone loss occurs without symptoms. People might not know they have osteoporosis
until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes a
fractures or a vertebra to collapse. Collapsed vertebrae might initially be felt
or seen in the form of severe back pain, loss of height, or spinal deformities
such as kyphosis or stooped posture.
A specialized test called a bone density test (dual energy
X-ray absorptiometry [DXA]) can measure bone density in various sites of the
body typically the spine and hip. A bone density test can:
- Detect osteoporosis before a fractures occurs
- Predict your chances of fracturing in the future
- Determine your rate of bone loss and/or monitor the effects of treatment
if the test is conducted at intervals of a year or more
By about age 20, the average woman has acquired 98 percent
of her skeletal mass. Building strong bone during childhood and adolescence can
be the best defense against developing osteoporosis later. A comprehensive
program that can help prevent osteoporosis includes:
- A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D
- Weight-bearing exercise
- A healthy lifestyle with no smoking and limited alcohol intake
- Bone density testing and medicine when appropriate
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are
several medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for
postmenopausal women to either prevent and/or treat osteoporosis:
- Bisphosphonates: alendronate, risedronate, ibandronate, zoledronic acid
are approved for prevention and treatment.
- Estrogen or hormone therapy is approved for prevention of osteoporosis.
- Calcitonin is approved for the treatment of osteoporosis.
- Raloxifene, a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM), is approved
for prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
- Teriparatide (PTH) is approved for osteoporosis treatment.
- Treatments under investigation include other SERMs, strontium, and sodium fluoride.