Nearly half of 836 women in a population-based study who underwent screening for osteoporosis for the first-time were found to have undiagnosed disease, results showed. Moreover, follow-up a year later revealed that half of those diagnosed with osteoporosis did not begin treatment to slow progression of the disorder and a quarter failed to discuss the screening results with their physician.
"This study tells us there are a lot of women with osteoporosis who don't know it," said Jean Wactawski-Wende, Ph.D., UB assistant professor of social and preventive medicine and obstetrics and gynecology and senior researcher on the study.
"Many women who are at risk for osteoporosis are not being referred for screening, and even when screened, only half of those found to have osteoporosis end up receiving therapy," she said. "We have a long way to go in educating women and their physicians about osteoporosis."
The results were presented in a poster session at the meeting.
Osteoporosis is a serious health condition, associated primarily with aging, in which bones lose mass and become brittle, breaking easily. Postmenopausal women of northern-European heritage are affected most frequently, although men and women of all ethnic backgrounds may become osteoporotic. Eight million women and two million men in the U.S. are estimated to have osteoporosis, and an estimated 34 million more people have low bone density, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF).
Osteoporosis can affect any bone, but hip and spine fractures cause the most serious health consequences. A broken hip almost always requires major surgery and a lengthy hospital stay. It
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University at Buffalo