What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis can be defined as reduction in the bone strength that results in increased risk of bone fracture¬Ě. Osteoporosis is generally a disease of postmenopausal women (most prevalent), although it can occur among men and women with pathological conditions that can lead to bone demineralization. The most important and common clinical problem of osteoporosis is fracture of vertebra and hip, although fracture of other bones can also occur.

According to WHO (World Health Organization) if bone density falls 2.5 SD (standard deviations) below the mean for young healthy adults of the same gender, also known as T-score of -2.5, is osteoporosis. For postmenopausal women a 1 SD (standard deviations) below the mean is high risk for osteoporosis and should take appropriate preventive measures. The WHO definition of osteoporosis is for functional and demographical use and also to clearly differentiate patients of osteoporosis. Among women more than half of the fractures occur among postmenopausal women at risk of osteoporosis or have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a very common disease, although only a small percentage of osteoporosis patients seek medical attention and again lesser percentage of those who seek medical attention get themselves appropriately treated for osteoporosis. It is estimated that in the United States alone, the number of osteoporosis patients (bone mass T-score <2.5) is over 10 millions (more than 8 million are women and more than 2 million are men), out of these only a small proportion are diagnosed and treated. Approximately 20 million are at risk of developing osteoporosis (bone mass T-score below 1.0).

The risk factors of osteoporosis fracture:

Non-modifiable risk factors:

  • Female sex, advanced age, Caucasian race, history of fracture during adult life, dementia, history of fracture in first-degree relative etc. are non-modifiable risk factors of osteoporosis fracture.

Modifiable risk factors of osteoporosis fracture:

  • Cigarette smoking, low intake of calcium, low body weight, alcoholism, estrogen deficiency (due to early menopause below 45 years of age or surgical removal of both ovaries), less physical activity, recurrent falls, impaired eyesight, poor general health condition.

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