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About Osteoporosis

  • Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become thin and porous, decreasing bone strength and leading to increased risk of breaking a bone.
  • The most common sites of osteoporotic fracture are the wrist, spine, shoulder and hip.
  • No single cause for osteoporosis has been identified.
  • Osteoporosis can strike at any age.
  • Osteoporosis affects both men and women.
  • Osteoporosis is often called the ‘silent thief’ because bone loss occurs without symptoms unless one has fractured.
  • Osteoporosis can result in disfigurement, lowered self-esteem, reduction or loss of mobility, and decreased independence.
  • Osteoporosis has been called a paediatric disease with geriatric consequences.
  • As women approach menopause, they lose bone at a greater rate, from 2-3 per cent per year.
  • Risk factors include age, sex, vertebral compression fracture, fragility fracture after age 40, either parent has had a hip fracture, >3 months use of glucocorticoid drugs, medical conditions that inhibit absorption of nutrients and other medical conditions or medications that contribute to bone loss.
  • Loss of 2cm (3/4″) as measured by one’s healthcare provider or 6cm (2 1/2″) overall from when one was younger may be an indicator of spinal fracture.

Facts & Figures

  • Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.
  • The overall yearly cost to the Canadian healthcare system of treating osteoporosis and the fractures it causes was over $2.3 billion as of 2010. This cost includes acute care costs, outpatient care, prescription drugs and indirect costs. This cost rises to $3.9 billion if a proportion of Canadians were assumed to be living in long-term care facilities because of osteoporosis. (The burden of illness of osteoporosis in Canada, Tarride et al, Osteoporosis International March 2012)
  • Osteoporosis causes 70-90% of 30,000 hip fractures annually.
  • Each hip fracture costs the system $21,285 in the 1st year after hospitalization, and $44,156 if the patient is institutionalized.
  • Osteoporotic hip fractures consume more hospital bed days than stroke, diabetes, or heart attack.
  • Fewer than 20% of fracture patients in Canada currently undergo diagnosis or adequate treatment for osteoporosis.
  • Without BMD testing, 80% of patients with a history of fractures are not given osteoporosis therapies. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians needlessly fracture each year because their osteoporosis goes undiagnosed and untreated.
  • A study recently reported that only 44% of people discharged from hospital for a hip fracture return home; of the rest, 10% go to another hospital, 27% go to rehabilitation care, and 17% go to long-term care facilities.
  • 14% of persons with a wrist fracture suffered a repeat fracture within 3 years.
  • Over 1 in 2 hip fracture patients will suffer another fracture within 5 years.
  • The risk of suffering a second spine fracture within the first 12 months following an initial vertebral fracture is 20%