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Osteoporosis FAQs

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass that results in a reduction in the strength of the skeleton.


















                                    Normal Bone                                            Osteoporotic Bone


The Scope of the Problem

  • Osteoporosis affects as many as 44 million Americans

  • 80% of those affected are women

  • One in two women and one in four men over age 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in her/his remaining lifetime

  • While osteoporosis is often thought of as an older person's disease, it can strike at any age


Consequences of Osteoporosis

  • Increased risk of fracture of the hip, spine, and wrist

  • Morbidity and mortality from fracture
    - Over 300,000 hip fractures/year
    - A 50-year-old white woman has a 15% lifetime probability of suffering a hip fracture

  • Healthcare costs
    - 2002: $18 billion


Fractures of the Hip and Spine

Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis


What is affected?

          Bones, which become more fragile and more likely to breakJoints, especially weight-bearing joints (knees, feet, hips, and back)

Whom does it affect?

          4 of 5 people suffering from osteoporosis are women occurs most commonly after the age of 45Men and women equally; usually occurs           after age 45

Why does it happen?

         Loss of bone mass, related to certain risk factorsJoin structure weaken and wear down


Who is at Risk? Risk Factors for Osteoporosis


  • Age

  • Gender

  • Race

  • Bone structure and body weight

  • Menopause and menstrual history

  • Lifestyle

  • Medications and disease

  • Family history

Osteoporosis and Menopause

Bone loss due to decline in estrogen is the leading cause of osteoporosis in women











Diagnosing Osteoporosis

If osteoporosis is painless, how do I know if my bones are healthy?


Keeping Bones Strong -The Keys to Prevention

  • The importance of calcium and vitamin D as part of a healthy diet

  • The value of weight-bearing exercise

  • Making lifestyle changes

  • Medications that prevent bone loss


The Importance of Calcium

Optimal Daily Calcium Intake*


Age Group (in years)                            Calcium (in milligrams)

1 – 5                                                        800
6 – 10                                                      800 – 1200
11 – 24                                                    1200 – 1500


25 – 50                                                   1000
Over 65                                                  1500

25 – 50                                                   1000
50 – 65 taking estrogen                         1000
50 – 65 not taking estrogen                   1500
Over 65                                                  1500
Pregnant or nursing                               1200-1500 

Vitamin D and Calcium Absorption

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium


—>  Vitamin D  —>   Helps the body absorb calcium

The Value of Exercise

  • Weight-bearing: Jogging, walking, stair climbing, dancing and soccer are examples of weight-bearing exercise with different degrees of impact

  • Resistance: These activities include weight lifting, such as using free weights and weight machines found at gyms and health clubs

Making Lifestyle Changes

  • No Smoking

  • No Drinking

Medications That Help Prevent Osteoporosis

  • Estrogen/hormone therapy

  • Bisphosphonates

  • Calcitonin

  • Parathyroid hormone

  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)


* Optimal Daily Calcium Intake. NIH Consensus Statement 1994

**National Osteoporosis Foundation

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