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    Osteoporosis Patients Underestimate Fracture Risk

    Survey Finds That 43% With Osteoporosis Consider Fracture Risk Normal

    Few Women Understand Fracture Risk continued...

    The survey’s main goal was to explore women’s knowledge of the risk factors that increased their likelihood of getting a fracture, Siris says.

    Risk factors include:

    • Being postmenopausal. Estrogen helps protect bone, and its loss at menopause is associated with bone weakening.
    • Being female. Osteoporosis does affect men, but about 80% of cases occur in women.
    • Being small-framed or thin
    • Having a parent who has had a hip fracture
    • Breaking a bone after age 45
    • Having a sedentary lifestyle, smoking cigarettes, or abusing alcohol
    • Taking steroids or certain other medications
    • Having a history of certain diseases and conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, anorexia nervosa, and some gastrointestinal disorders

    Osteoporosis: ‘Fractures Beget Fractures’

    Women over 50 who have any of these risk factors should discuss bone mineral density testing with their doctor, says Siris, who is past president of the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).

    NOF clinical director Felicia Cosman, MD, tells WebMD that the biggest single risk factor for osteoporosis-related fracture is having a previous fracture after the age of 45.

    “In older adults, any fracture that occurs in the absence of major trauma should be considered an osteoporosis-related fracture,” she says. “Because these are the people at highest risk for having more fractures, the emphasis should be on making sure they get the treatment they need.”

    Cosman points out that hip fractures are the most common reason for nursing home admissions.

    According to NOF:

    • 20% of people who are able to walk normally before a hip fracture require long-term care afterward.
    • Six months after a hip fracture, only 15% of patients can walk across a room unaided.
    • Two to three times more women get hip fractures, compared to men; but men are twice as likely to die within a year of fracturing a hip.

    “Fractures beget more fractures,” Cosman says. “If we can interrupt this dramatic domino effect of one fracture leading to another, we can really improve quality of life among older people.”

    Siris and most other investigators listing in the study reported receiving consulting fees or research and salary support from companies that market osteoporosis drugs.

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