New bone health alert issued for patients 65+

Worldwide osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures annually

New clinical recommendations from the world’s top bone health experts say that patients 65 and older with hip or spine fracture should be treated for osteoporosis.

The recommendations of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Secondary Fracture Prevention Initiative Coalition were released on Sept. 29 during the ASBMR’s annual meeting in Montreal, in response to a global crisis in the treatment of osteoporosis.

According to their findings, which were reported also by EurekAlert, the online journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, this highly treatable disease is responsible for more than 2 million fractures annually in the United States alone and on the rise globally. Worldwide osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures a year, the ASBMR reported.

The coalition’s recommendations are the first to outline the best course of clinical care for people age 65 and older who suffer a hip or vertebral fracture. The bone experts said there is growing evidence of an alarming trend of an increase in the anticipated number of hip fractures and high-risk osteoporosis patients who need treatment but are either not being prescribed appropriate medications, or if prescribed, are simply not taking them despite research showing their effectiveness in preventing fractures.

ASBMR President Dr. Michael Econs, a professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said that as doctors “it’s our duty to help our patients and their loved ones understand what they can do to prevent another fracture. We must do a better job communicating with them and one another to help rein in this crisis.”

A recent survey by the National Osteoporosis Foundation found that 96 percent of postmenopausal women who say they have not been diagnosed with osteoporosis and have had a fracture or break were not told by their doctor it could be linked to osteoporosis. One third of women who had a fracture and responded to the survey also said they were not referred for follow-up visits by health care providers.

These bone experts also said the risk of further fractures after a first major osteoporotic fracture is greatest immediately following the first event.

Osteoporosis, which is highly treatable, is also one of the 10 most costly chronic conditions paid for by Medicare. The human and economic cost is very high. One of every four hip fracture patients end up in a nursing home and one of every four hip fracture patients dies within one year.

“Patients who have suffered hip or vertebral fractures are at very high risk for suffering from serious and life-threatening fractures in the first one to two years after those fractures,” said Dr. Sundeep Khosia, past president of ASBMR, and director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

ASBMR’s full recommendations and more data about the crisis in osteoporosis treatment are online at http://www.secondaryfractures.org

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