Break a Hip and Die! The Impact of Osteoporosis

Even a minor accident or fall could result in a potentially disabling fracture for as many as 60 percent of Canadian women over age 50. That’s just one of the disturbing findings of the Canadian Multicentre Osteoporosis Study (CAMOS), a major, ongoing study of osteoporosis involving more than 9,000 people across Canada. This study is made possible by a recently renewed grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Although common in older people, osteoporosis is often not diagnosed or treated, according to CAMOS researchers. “We found a significant ‘osteoporosis care gap,’” says principal investigator, Dr. Alan Tenenhouse, Director of the Division of Bone Metabolism, Department of Medicine, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). “Many cases of osteoporosis, especially in men, go undetected.” People with untreated osteoporosis are at high risk for fractures. Hip fractures are particularly dangerous. About one quarter of the 25,000 Canadians who fracture a hip die within a year of their injury. Only half ever regain normal function.

“Other fractures, including spinal fractures, also have a very negative impact on quality of life,” says Dr. Tenenhouse. “ That’s disturbing, because X-rays showed at least 15 percent of men and women over age 50 in our study had spinal fractures, although many of these did not cause symptoms. “We found that even being diagnosed with osteoporosis caused a decline in quality of life, because people with the condition worry about the threat of fractures. The objective of CAMOS is to free older people in Canada from this threat.” Phase 2 of CAMOS is now underway. To assist them in their work, researchers will be using a made-in-Canada reference standard for bone density developed during the first phase of CAMOS.

“We are studying factors that promote maximum bone size and strength during youth, and the relationship between bone mass in youth to bone loss in older people,” says Dr. Tenenhouse. “Understanding these processes and relationships is essential to the development of an effective strategy for fracture prevention. Ultimately, we hope CAMOS will help us develop better ways to reduce the human and economic impact of osteoporosis.” Osteoporosis, sometimes called porous bone disease or brittle bone disease, is characterized by reduced bone density and strength. The disorder affects as many as one in four Canadians over age 50, and is associated with increased risk of disabling fractures of the vertebrae, ribs, wrists and hips. Osteoporosis costs the Canadian economy an estimated $1 billion annually, and that figure is expected to double over the next 30 years as the population ages.

While walking is one of the healthiest and most popular exercises, it also results in more trips to the emergency room for women than any other non-equipment exercise, a University of Arkansas study revealed. The study, conducted by associate health science professors Ches Jones and Lori Turner, has been accepted for publication in the summer 2005 issue of the “Journal of Women and Aging.” Jones presented the results at the 7th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion held recently in Vienna, Austria.

Jones and Turner studied data gathered by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). The NEISS compiles reports from over 100 emergency rooms across the nation, then estimates the frequency of each type of injury. The study looked at data from 851 reported injuries from 1994 to 2001. The researchers focused on emergency room visits among women age 65 years and older, who were injured while doing non-equipment exercise. Non-equipment exercise refers to any activity done without equipment, such as walking, aerobics, hiking, swimming, stretching, yoga or tai chi. “We looked at how people exercise without equipment,” Jones said. “We asked, ‘How can people get injured that way?’” Walking was the most common non-equipment activity cited in the study and also was linked most frequently to injury. Falls were the major cause of injuries, according to Jones. “Environmental hazards were a big issue — like when you’re walking or hiking, and you encounter obstacles such as street curbs, rocks, holes and even animals,” he said.

Jones was surprised at the number of non-equipment injuries, which increased each year, despite adjustments for population increases. He speculated that contributing factors include increases in activity, more active people living longer, better health care, and health care physicians prescribing activity to patients, among other things. The number of falls among older women is a concern due to the increased risk for fractures among that age group. “It brings up the question, ‘Is walking the best activity for this age group?’” Jones said. “It is obviously popular and healthy, but is it the best?”


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]