A backlog in osteoporosis assessments, treatment delays, and sedentary indoor lifestyles: these are just several ways in which the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted bone health and disrupted global osteoporosis care.
Osteoporosis is a common bone disorder that leads to weak and fragile bones which fracture easily. An osteoporotic fracture typically occurs as a result of a minor fall from standing height, or even from bending to pick up a grocery bag.
Worldwide, osteoporosis-related fractures affect up to one in three women and one in five men aged 50 years and over. Approximately 9 million fractures occur annually, with an enormous impact on patients and their families as well as on healthcare systems. Among the major osteoporotic fractures, spine and hip fractures have the most severe consequences and result in enormous long-term medical costs. Because of the disability and loss of function following a hip fracture, 33% of hip fracture patients are totally dependent or in a nursing home in the year following the fracture.
IOF President Professor Cyrus Cooper noted:
“The pandemic’s continuing toll on bone health and the timely delivery of osteoporosis assessment and care is of global concern. Given this backdrop, it is more important than ever to be proactive on behalf of bone health. Osteoporosis-related fractures are a major cause of pain, disability, and loss of independence in older adults. Such life-changing injuries can be prevented with life-long attention to bone health, and early diagnosis and appropriate treatment for those at risk.”
“Nevertheless, despite the immense burden of fragility fractures, osteoporosis remains vastly under-diagnosed and under-treated. Even after an osteoporotic fracture, approximately 80% of patients are not assessed or treated for the underlying cause. This is inexcusable – and in stark contrast to cardiovascular disease prevention, where patients are routinely treated for high blood pressure or cholesterol to avoid potential strokes or heart attacks.”
On World Osteoporosis Day, IOF and its global membership of more than 265 national patient and medical societies, call on individuals and health care authorities alike to prioritize bone health and the prevention of fractures. IOF urges all older adults to ensure they are exercising regularly, getting enough vitamin D through exposure to sunshine or supplements, and eating bone-healthy foods that contain calcium, protein, and other important nutrients. The IOF Osteoporosis Risk Check, an online questionnaire, is a simple way to be alerted to any key personal risk factors for the disease.
“If you’re at risk, reach out to your doctor to ask for an assessment and timely treatment. This is particularly important if you’ve already broken a bone after the age of fifty, have noticed height loss or a stooped back, or have a family history of osteoporosis,” cautions the IOF President.
Without protective treatment, a first broken bone doubles the risk of further, potentially life-threatening fractures. It is essential that anyone who has sustained a fragility fracture gets post-fracture care for the prevention of recurrent fractures. A global map of hospitals with Fracture Liaison Services is available at www.capturethefracture.org
World Osteoporosis Day (WOD), held on October 20, calls for global action to fight osteoporosis and related fractures. www.worldosteoporosisday.org
World Osteoporosis Day Partners: Sunsweet, UCB, Amgen, Sandoz, Theramex
The International Osteoporosis Foundation is the world’s largest non-governmental organization dedicated to osteoporosis and fracture prevention. www.osteoporosis.foundation
IOF Osteoporosis Risk Check: https://riskcheck.osteoporosis.foundation/