"May is National Osteoporosis Month, and in 2004, an osteoporotic or fragility fracture of the hip should be preventable," said Dr. Seth Kantor, a rheumatologist at OSU Medical Center and lead author of the study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Densitometry. "Our findings suggest that a very simple test for all patients current height compared to peak adult height can predict the need for a bone mineral density scan to check for osteoporosis."
New medications that help build and stabilize bone make effective treatment for osteoporosis possible, he noted. In patients with osteoporosis, the natural cycle of losing and adding minerals in healthy bone falls out of balance and the loss outpaces the gain, leading to low bone mass, structural deterioration of bone tissue, fragility and an increased susceptibility to fractures of the hip, spine and wrist. An estimated 30 million American women either have or are at risk for osteoporosis, which is responsible for about 300,000 hip fractures annually. Men account for 25 percent of the hip fractures nationally.
Kantor considers osteoporosis a major public health threat and calls it a "silent disease" because patients with the disorder feel no symptoms until a fracture occurs. Broken hips can be catastrophic for elderly patients nearly 50 percent of sufferers never return to normal function, 25 percent require nursing home care and 20 percent die of infection, blood clots or other complications within six months after the fractures, he said.