Today, on World Osteoporosis Day, the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is calling for action and urging older adults, and patients together with their doctors, to prioritize bone health and fracture prevention.
Osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to become weak and fragile, is a silent disease that at the best of times often remains undiagnosed and untreated. Now, many experts are concerned that the global pandemic has had a negative impact on bone health and osteoporosis prevention and treatment. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, many older adults, those most susceptible to osteoporosis, have lived an increasingly indoor, sedentary lifestyle. This means that they may have not been getting enough exercise, or vitamin D - which together with calcium and other healthy nutrients, is needed for good bone health.  Also worrying is that due to indoor restrictions or closures many older adults may have been unable to access much-needed bone health assessments or prescribed medication.
IOF President Professor Cyrus Cooper states:
“Now is the time to make bone health and osteoporosis prevention a health care priority. Broken bones due to osteoporosis affect one in three women and one in five men aged 50 years and over worldwide. Osteoporotic fractures are a major cause of pain, disability, and loss of independence in older adults. Hip and spinal fractures are among the most debilitating and life-threatening, especially for older adults.” 
“With attention to bone health, and early diagnosis and effective treatment for those at risk, such life-changing injuries can be prevented.”
There are five key ways in which individuals can take direct action for bone health:
- Regular exercise: during the pandemic, people have been more sedentary, especially if confined to their homes for extended periods of time. Regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises help maintain bone and muscle mass, leading to stronger bones and helping older adults stay mobile, and less likely to fall and fracture.
- Sufficient vitamin D and a bone-healthy, calcium-rich diet: together with calcium, protein, and other nutrients, vitamin D supports bone and muscle health. Individuals who have been staying indoors with little exposure to sunlight may be vitamin D deficient, and supplementation may be required.
- Bone health assessments for individuals who may be at risk: during the pandemic, fewer risk assessments  have been carried out and many who should have been tested have not been able to access a bone density scan. The IOF Osteoporosis Risk Check helps individuals be alerted to any possible key risk factors they may have. IOF urges adults with key risk factors to insist on a fracture risk assessment or a DXA scan, if recommended.
- Prescribed osteoporosis treatments: individuals who have been prescribed treatment should ensure they continue their medication as prescribed. Some treatments should not be delayed and doctors should be contacted for prescription refills or to organize injections if needed.
- Prioritizing falls prevention: Falls lead to fractures and this is why a safe 'falls-proofed' home environment is important. Among other fall safety measures, tripping hazards should be removed, handrails should be installed in the bath, and good lighting provided along stairways. Shoes with slip-proof soles should be worn.
Professor Cooper emphasizes the importance of post-fracture care:
“It is critically important that anyone aged over 50 who has broken a bone after a minor fall request testing and management of osteoporosis. Timely post-fracture care, when possible through a fracture liaison service in your local hospital, is the key to preventing further potentially debilitating fractures in the future.” 
To support the World Osteoporosis Day call to action, IOF invites all concerned individuals or organizations to sign the IOF Global Patient Charter, a petition in support of patient rights to timely identification and treatment of bone disorders.
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2. https://www.osteoporosis.foundation/facts-statistics/epidemiology-of-os… [accessed 20.10.21]
3. McCloskey, E.V., et al. Global Impact of Covid-19 on Non-communicable Disease Management: descriptive analysis of access to FRAX fracture risk online tool for prevention of osteoporotic fractures. Osteoporos Int (2020) and Fuggle N.R. et al. How has Covid-19 affected the treatment of osteoporosis: An IOF-NOF-ESCEO global survey. Osteoporos Int (2021)
4. https://www.capturethefracture.org/index.php/what-is-a-pfc / [accessed 20.10.21]
About World Osteoporosis Day
World Osteoporosis Day is marked annually on October 20 to raise awareness of bone health and osteoporosis prevention. The campaign, this year under the banner of ‘Take Action For Bone Health’, calls for global action to fight osteoporosis and related fractures worldwide. www.worldosteoporosisday.org
World Osteoporosis Day Official Partners: Amgen, UCB, Sandoz, Sunsweet, Theramex
The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) is the world's largest nongovernmental organization dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of osteoporosis and related musculoskeletal diseases. IOF members, including committees of scientific researchers as well as 268 patient, medical and research societies, work together to make fracture prevention and healthy mobility a worldwide health care priority. https://www.osteoporosis.foundation @iofbonehealth