Washington, DC (May 22, 2008) – The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) today announced results of a nationwide survey that reveals a concerning low awareness of bone health and risk for osteoporosis in American men and women age 45 and older, as well as a lack of conversations regarding bone health between patients in this age group and their health professionals.
While 55 percent of people over the age of 50 are living with or at risk for osteoporosis, the study reveals that 40 percent of women and 60 percent of men age 45 and older have little or no concern about their bone health. The study also reveals that most Americans 45 and older are concerned about the impact a broken bone would have on daily activities and their independence to live how they choose, however, almost 80 percent of them do not believe osteoporosis as a risk factor in broken bones.
This failure to link osteoporosis with broken bones as we age is particularly concerning when one in two women and one in four men older than 50 is estimated to break a bone due to osteoporosis in their remaining lifetime. In fact, a woman’s risk of a hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer. Fracture is the medical condition name commonly used to describe a broken bone. A fracture is a break, however, almost half of Americans age 45+ are not aware that these are the same.
According to the study, six of ten women and nine of ten men have not yet had a discussion about the risk of breaking a bone with their healthcare provider. A staggering four in ten women in this age group have not had a bone density test, and for men this number is nearly twice as high. Americans report they didn’t think to ask about a bone density scan or were waiting for their health professional to bring it up. Both women and men are unlikely to have a bone density test in the coming year.
“We strongly urge patients to become aware of the risks and causes of broken bones as they get older,” said Dr. Felicia Cosman, M.D., clinical director of the National Osteoporosis Foundation. “It is clear that discussions between health professionals and patients about bone health are not commonplace. NOF is working to advance the process of evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis through developments such as our new Clinician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis, however, patients need to take charge of their health and bring up the topic with their health professionals rather than relying on them to bring it up first.”
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recently released its new Clinician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis representing a major breakthrough in the way healthcare providers evaluate and treat people with osteoporosis or low bone mass. These developments provide a markedly improved method to assure that people with the highest risk of fracture get treated and that lower risk people are put on a prevention plan that is right for them. The guide incorporates the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recently released algorithm on absolute fracture risk called FRAX® which estimates the likelihood of a person to break a bone due to low bone mass or osteoporosis over a period of ten years.
The pre-press draft of the guide is now available for download on the NOF Web site (www.nof.org) and has been widely viewed by NOF’s network of health professionals. The guide will be printed and distributed to thousands of health professionals across the country within the next several months.
The survey revealed that bone density testing is covered by most health insurance plans. Patients should ask their health insurance if they are covered and to speak with their health professional about their bone health. NOF recommends all women age 65 and older and men age 70 and older receive a bone mineral density test. Additionally, depending on an individual’s risk, postmenopausal women and men age 50 - 70, should be tested as well any adult who has suffered a fracture.
This survey was conducted by the Roper Public Affairs and Media group among a national random digit dialing (RDD) probability sample of 661 Americans age 45 and above. The survey was conducted April 11 – 13, 2008 and the margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points.
Established in 1984, the National Osteoporosis Foundation is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization solely dedicated to osteoporosis and bone health. Our mission is to prevent osteoporosis, to promote lifelong bone health, to help improve the lives of those affected by osteoporosis and related fractures, and to find a cure. For more information on osteoporosis and bone health, contact NOF online atwww.nof.org or by telephone (800) 223-9994.
The December issue of Consumer Reports on Health announces "Good News about Osteoporosis Meds." A recent review of 294 studies completed since 2005 concluded that certain drugs to treat low bone density can reduce the risk of a spinal fracture by 40 to 60 percent in high risk women, and other fractures can be reduced by 20 to 40 percent.
NOF cautions the observational research study conducted by the Department of Surgical Sciences at Uppsala University in Sweden, and published recently in The BMJ, has a number of severe limitations, as the study authors admit in the abstract.