Osteoporosis, A Broken Hip And Aging The Hard Way

2010-06-15 | |
Last updated: 2010-06-15

Living a long healthy life to a ripe old age is one of those cliched, sentimental ideas that often differs significantly from what reality has in store for us. Though the term “Golden Years” is sometimes used to describe life after retirement, these years are also about directly experiencing the effects of aging. While retirement can be great, even the most optimistic among us will occasionally worry about getting ill.

Specifically, we might worry about heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s or various types of cancer. Whether we worry about ourselves or an aging family member, however, we often overlook more common conditions that can also make life very difficult. In particular, hip fractures are worthy of our attention because experiencing one can put a significant dent in the ability of seniors to maintain a good quality of life. In many cases, it can be deadly.

How Many People Experience Hip Fractures?

Hip fractures affect 300,000 Americans over the age of 65 each year. In the UK, Canada, and Australia, the numbers are 60,000, 24,000 and 16,000 respectively. More than 90% of these broken hips are the result of falls. However, the reason that the hipbone will break in the first place is often because of Osteoporosis.

For those who are unfamiliar, osteoporosis is a condition in which the density of the bone decreases and microscopic structure of the bone is altered with the end result being increased bone brittleness. In men, 80% of hip fractures are associated with Osteoporosis. However, Osteoporosis is roughly 4 times more common in women than it is in men.

It is no surprise then that hip fractures are 3 times more frequent in women than they are in men.

In terms of overall frequency, hip fractures occur more often than breast cancer in women, but get far less attention. Even in men where the rate of hip fractures is much lower, the risks are still higher than the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Overall, these fractures are the second most common reason that seniors are hospitalized. Yet, the risks of developing hip fractures are not well known by the public.

In research conducted by YouGov and the Social Issues Research Centre, only 8% of women under 30 knew that Osteoporosis was a significant risk associated with aging. Similarly, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that only 43% of postmenopausal women with diagnosed Osteoporosis knew that they were at greater risk of fractures than other women.

Worse still is that less than 1 in 10 women who suffer a fracture will be informed about other risks such as hip fractures despite being potentially at risk of Osteoporosis. This means than many are at much higher risk of such fractures than they need be.

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Category: Disease Information, General Health, Health Risks