Why is it important to know about osteoporosis

First, osteoporosis is the most common bone disease. While osteoporosis is painless, it is still important for you to understand how it can affect your personal health,

Dempster Bone Image
Figure 1 Comparison of normal bone with osteoporosis. A, normal bone. B, osteoporotic bone. Courtesy of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health (NPWH). From Dempster DW et al. J Bone Miner Res 1986;1:15-21.

family, finances, and lifestyle. A recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General says that by 2020, half of all Americans over the age of 50 will be at risk for fractures as a result of osteoporosis. Current estimates indicate that osteoporosis is an expensive health care problem, costing Americans $18 billion per year.

Osteoporosis is costly not only in dollars and cents, but also in terms of poor health, disability, and social isolation. Fractures that result from osteoporosis can be devastating. Up to 20% of those who fracture a hip will die within one year of the fracture. Of those who survive, 50% will not be able to return to independent living. Those who suffer fractures as a result of osteoporosis may not be able to dress themselves or carry on other activities of daily living, frequently causing depression and isolation from others. About 20% will need nursing home or assisted living care after a hip fracture because they are not able to live independently. Figure 2 shows the impact of poor bone health and why it's important for you to be aware of osteoporosis.


A physical or mental impairment that causes inability to perform normal or routine activities.

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