What is osteoporosis?
Worldwide, one in three women and one in five men aged 50 years and over will suffer an osteoporotic fracture. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and fragile, so that they break easily – even as a result of a minor fall, a bump, a sneeze, or a sudden movement. Fractures caused by osteoporosis can be life-threatening and a major cause of pain and long-term disability.
Can osteoporosis and fractures be prevented? Yes, if action is taken early! Read the information provided here to learn which steps you can take to build strong bones throughout life and avoid osteoporotic fractures.
The care gap
Fractures due to osteoporosis have a devastating impact on millions of people worldwide and result in enormous socio-economic costs to society and healthcare systems. Yet, despite effective medical advances to reduce fractures, a minority of men and women actually receive treatment. Only 10% of older women with fractures actually receive osteoporosis therapy. In 2010, in Europe alone some 12.3 million people considered to be at a high risk for osteoporotic fractures were left untreated.
The 5 steps to healthy bones and a fracture-free future
1. Exercise regularly
Weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening and balance-training exercises are best.
2. Ensure a diet rich in bone-healthy nutrients
Calcium, vitamin D and protein are the most important for bone health. Safe exposure to sunshine will help you get enough vitamin D.
3. Avoid negative lifestyle habits
Maintain a healthy body weight, avoid smoking and excessive drinking.
4. Find out whether you have risk factors
and bring these to your doctor’s attention, especially if you’ve had a previous fracture or have specific diseases and medications that affect bone health.
5. Get tested and treated if needed
If you’re at high risk you will likely need medication to ensure optimal protection against fracture.
Have risk factors? Talk to your doctor, ask for testing.
To become aware of any potential risk factors, take the IOF One-Minute Osteoporosis Risk Test.
If you are over the age of 50 and you have one or more risk factors you should discuss these with your doctor and ask for an assessment of your bone health status. Lifestyle changes may be recommended and, for those at high risk, medication may be prescribed for optimal protection against fractures.