In the UK approximately 50% of women over the age of 50 will experience a fragility fracture due to osteoporosis. The results of a new global survey of over 4,000 women aged 60 and over, reveal a staggering lack of awareness and understanding of osteoporosis and fragility fractures in those most at risk.
The results indicate that 61% said they have little or no knowledge of the condition and more than a third (37%) claimed their healthcare professional had never spoken to them about osteoporosis or fragility fractures. Additionally, over half (55%) believed these fragility fractures were a result of an unlucky fall or accident, rather than an underlying bone condition.
Why worry about osteoporosis?
To be honest it is not a condition that is top of our health risk awareness, but osteoporosis is a global public health crisis: it is estimated to affect 200 million people worldwide, and is the most common bone disease in the world, resulting in more than 8.9 million fragility fractures annually. Also osteoporosis affects men too. In fact, one third of hip fractures worldwide occur in men. Over the course of their lifetimes, one in three women and one in five men will suffer an osteoporotic fracture.
Fragility fractures have the potential to impose a significant burden on a person’s life, often making everyday activities such as eating, dressing, shopping or driving difficult. For those that suffer a hip fracture , 40% are not able to walk independently again and up to a 25% of those who suffer a hip fracture will die in their first year after the fracture.
Despite women aged 60+ being most at risk of osteoporosis and fragility fractures, 37 per cent of the women surveyed claimed their healthcare professional had never spoken to them about these issues and in the survey overall 81% claimed their healthcare professional had never spoken to them about osteoporosis or fragility fractures.
It is estimated that the proportion of over 60 year olds will nearly double from 12% to 22% between 2015 and 2050, bringing with it an increase in the global burden of fragility fractures due to osteoporosis so this is an increasing health problem.
How it can affect you
One interesting thing this survey also revealed is that the over 60s still have a passion for life and a desire to stay active: 47 per cent often take holidays and indulge in travelling the world so risking osteoporosis will curtail those activities. 84 per cent of those surveyed expect to live longer and healthier lives and 82 per cent expect more from their later years.
In spite of these aspirations, osteoporosis and fragility fractures pose a significant threat to a long and active life. If the right action isn’t taken from the moment that a woman suffers fragility fracture, these aspirations and hopes for later life could be shattered.
What can you do?
First is to establish if you have risk factors and here family history plays an important role in determining the risk of osteoporotic fracture. Women and men with osteoporosis in their family are more likely to develop the disease and have fractures arising from minor trauma.
In addition to family history, other risk factors include: physical inactivity, smoking, high alcohol intake, long-term use of corticosteroids or proton pump inhibiting medicines and low body weight. Also never just accept any bone breakage as normal, but ask your doctor to check if you are more vulnerable by doing a bone scan.
Strong healthy bones require two hormones and a variety of minerals. Progesterone and oestrogen are essential to have in balance as it is progesterone that is responsible for building new bone, but oestrogen that clears away old bone and bone building minerals such as a specific combination of vitamin D, essential bone nutrients vitamins C, D and K and minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Boron and Manganese.
If you would like more information on bone health, osteoporosis or osteopenia and the key role of progesterone, then the following articles will be helpful.
Why It’s Never Too Early To Start Taking Care Of Your Bones