Return To Main Guide
Osteoporosis in Women
|United States Statistics
• Every year about 1.5 million Americans suffer an osteoporotic related fracture (ORF).
• 50 percent of all women over 50 will have an ORF.
• Medical expenses for ORF's cost $18 billion every year.
• The cost of a typical hip fracture is more than $81,000 during a lifetime.
• The most common breaks are of the wrist, spine and hip.
• 1 in 5 elderly people dies within a year of a hip fracture.
• The risk of dying is 3-4 times higher among hip fracture patients during the first 3 months after injury, compared to those of a similar age living in the community without a fracture.
• 1 in 5 need to move to a nursing home after a hip fracture.
• 1 in 4 become permanently disabled after a hip fracture.
• Other bone diseases remain a major problem, including Paget’s disease of the bone, rickets, osteogenesis imperfecta, osteomalacia, hyperparathyroidism and renal osteodystrophy. In total they currently affect 10 million Americans.
• Older white women are more likely to develop osteoporosis. An estimated 35 percent of postmenopause women have osteoporosis of the spine, hip or forearm.
• Hip fracture rates are lower in black women than white women. The prevalence of osteoporosis is just as high in Asian and Hispanic women as in white women. Interestingly, the rate of hip fractures in Hispanic women in California is on the rise.
• Studies indicate that weight of a child in infancy is a determinant of bone mass in adulthood.
• As the main problem associated with osteoporosis is bone fracture, attention is now being focused on identifying patients at high risk of fracture rather than those with osteoporosis defined by BMD. This includes identifying other risk factors in a patient such as family history, smoking and lack of physical activity.
See osteoporosis risk factors.
Lifetime Risk Of Fracture at Age 50
|Type of Fracture
|Any of the 3
2010: Nearly 12 million people over 50 years old have osteoporosis and 40 million to have low bone mass.
2020: It is forecasted that those figures will rise to 14 million and 47 million respectively by 2020. This could cause the incidence rate of hip fractures in America to double or triple by 2040.
Why Are Experts Worried?
Despite rising awareness of osteoporosis prevention and bone health among the public, relatively few people follow the recommendations issued for reducing risk factors. This includes ensuring you take regular daily physical activity (30 minutes) and consuming the recommended dosage of calcium and vitamin D. National surveys show the average intake of calcium is far below the recommended levels for good bone health. Research into patients with hip fractures suggests a high percentage have not consumed enough vitamin D. As people age they tend to become naturally less active, but women become consistently less active faster than men. Furthermore, habits are worsening in the next generation. Only 50 percent of young people aged 12-21 exercise enough on a regular basis and 25 percent do not exercise at all.
How Are Health Care Experts Failing?
Recent studies show that doctors frequently fail to diagnose and treat osteoporosis - even in patients who have suffered a fracture. One recent study of 4 Midwestern health systems reported that:
• Only 1 in 8 patients with a hip fracture were given a bone density test. This is necessary for an osteoporosis diagnosis.
• Less than 25 percent were given vitamin D and calcium supplements.
• Less than 1 in 10 were given antiresorptive drugs (medications which slow the destructive process of bone turnover or resorption). The drugs are an important part of osteoporosis treatment.
Other studies show that many physicians fail to even discuss osteoporosis with patients after a fracture. And, even if they do, they do not always follow guidelines. For example many patients with a low bone mineral density (BMD), who are at most risk, are not treated; and those with a higher BMD are treated.
• An osteoporotic fracture occurs every 3 seconds and a vertebral fracture every 22 seconds.
• Osteoporosis affects about 200 million women worldwide, that is 1 in 10 women over the age of 60; 1 in 5 over 70; 2 in 5 over 80 and 75 percent of all women over the age of 90.
• In the year 2000, there were 1.6 million reported fractures of the hip; 1.7 of the forearm and 1.4 million of the vertebra.
• The number of hip fractures worldwide increased by 25 percent between 1990 and 2000.
• By 2050 the occurrences of hip fractures in women is estimated to rise by 240 percent and 310 percent in men.
• The lifetime risk for white women of suffering a hip fracture is 1 in 6 compared to 1 in 9 for breast cancer.
• Lifestyle Changes: Disability due to osteoporosis is greater than those caused by cancer (except for lung cancer) and is comparable to those incurred as the result of high blood pressure related to heart disease in women, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
• After the age of 45 osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in hospital than other significant diseases including breast cancer, diabetes and heart attacks in women.
• A survey carried out by the International Osteoporosis Foundation in 11 countries reported a denial of personal risk by postmenopausal women and a lack of discussion about osteoporosis with their doctor. See recognizing the symptoms of osteoporosis.
• The highest rates of hip fractures are found in the Nordic countries Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark; followed by the United States.
• 40 percent of hip fracture patients are unable to walk unassisted within the first year of sustaining injury. 60 percent require assistance in everyday tasks one year later, which is why 33 percent move to nursing homes.
• A 65 year old woman who has suffered a vertebral fracture has a 1 in 4 chance of another fracture within 5 years. This risk can be reduced to 1 in 8 if she receives the correct treatment.
• The number of vertebral fractures which go undiagnosed are as high as 46 percent in Latin America, 45 percent in North America and 29 percent in Europe/South Africa/Australia.