VCU Program for Osteoporosis and Bone Health

Educational Material

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is defined as a skeletal disorder characterized by compromised bone strength predisposing to an increased risk of fracture. Bone strength reflects the integration of two main features: bone density and bone quality. Bone density is expressed as grams of mineral per area or volume and in any given individual is determined by peak bone mass and amount of bone loss. Bone quality refers to architecture, turnover, damage accumulation (e.g., microfractures) and mineralization. A fracture occurs when a failure-inducing force (e.g., trauma) is applied to osteoporotic bone. Thus, osteoporosis is a significant risk factor for fracture, and a distinction between risk factors that affect bone metabolism and risk factors for fracture must be made.

Facts and Figures

  • Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for 44 million Americans, 68% of whom are women.
  • In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis and 34 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for this disease.
  • One out of every two women and one in four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
  • More than 2 million American men suffer from osteoporosis, and millions more are at risk. Each year, 80,000 men suffer a hip fracture and one-third of these men die within a year.
  • Osteoporosis can strike at any age.
  • Osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures annually, including 300,000 hip fractures, and approximately 700,000 vertebral fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures, and more than 300,000 fractures at other sites.
  • Estimated national direct expenditures (hospitals and nursing homes) for osteoporosis and related fractures is $14 billion each year.

 

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Last Updated on September 13, 2005

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