What You Need to know
Healthy bones are part of a healthy life.
Bones are an essential part of us: they support the body, help us move, protect our organs, and store important minerals. Our bones are literally the backbone of our bodies.
The bones in your body are constantly changing. As you age, you lose bone, make new bone and absorb old bone. Even though you’re feeling great on the outside, your bones could be telling a different story on the inside.
As we age, our bones can become weak and more likely to break. This happens in a bone disease called osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a “silent” disease because you can’t feel your bones weakening. In fact, some people don’t even know they have osteoporosis until after they break a bone.
Bone without osteoporosis
Bone with osteoporosis
Images reproduced with permission from David W. Demptser, PhD, 1986.
Despite common belief, osteoporosis is not a “normal” part of aging. It is true that bone loss increases as you age, but when too much bone is lost and your bones become weak—this is when osteoporosis occurs. It is important to know the risks of developing osteoporosis and lifestyle habits to help maintain your bone strength.
Osteoporosis affects both men and women, but it is especially prevalent in postmenopausal women. Many women know all too well what to expect during menopause, but what many don’t expect after menopause is an increased risk for osteoporosis. In fact, some women may lose as much as 20% of their bone density in the 5 to 7 years following menopause. This is because estrogen, a hormone in women that helps protect bones, decreases sharply when women reach menopause.
Who is at risk?
In addition to being postmenopausal, other risk factors associated with developing osteoporosis include:
- Age 65 or older
- Parent who had a hip fracture
- Low body weight
- Cigarette smoking
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Low calcium intake
- Excessive alcohol intake (more than 3 drinks/day)
- Long-term glucocorticoid use
Meet Victoria, a woman who has been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Often, people think that frequent bone breaks and osteoporosis are a disease limited to older people, but, while it may seem that osteoporosis affects the elderly, that is not the only case.
The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported in 2017-2018, 12.6% of Americans age 50 and above had osteoporosis. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million people suffer a broken bone due to osteoporosis. And this number is projected to increase.
In the U.S., 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis in her remaining lifetime.
A fracture can hit close to home.
Click on the map below to see how many women age 66 and above have been affected by osteoporosis-related fracture (OP-related fracture) in the state where you live.
index hip OP-related fracture
index spine OP-related fracture
index non-hip non-spine OP-related fracture
The interactive heat map shows the distribution of osteoporosis-related fractures in the United States among postmenopausal women age 66 and above at a state level. The heat map was based on an analysis of Medicare claims and captured the first fracture measured during the period of Jan 1, 2015-Oct 31, 2018. Results may not represent the total number of fractures.
Index fracture: the first osteoporosis fracture measured during the analysis time period.
OP = Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is more than simply breaking a bone—it can have an impact both on your day-to-day life and on society at large.
The impact on YOU:
- While bone breaks most commonly occur in the hip, spine or wrist, other bones can break too. Breaking a bone can be a life-altering event that can lead to pain, loss of mobility and a change in lifestyle.
Keep in mind that while bone breaks usually heal, osteoporosis is more than just a broken bone. It is a chronic disease that can make you at risk for more bone breaks. After a fracture, postmenopausal women are five times more likely to break another bone within a year.
The impact on SOCIETY:
- In the U.S., osteoporosis is responsible for 2 million broken bones and $19 billion in related costs every year.
- By 2025, experts predict that osteoporosis will be responsible for approximately 3 million fractures and $25.3 billion in costs annually in the U.S.
But there’s something you can do about it.
Bone health may be overlooked among the many health concerns that older women may face. Conditions like cancer and diabetes require medical attention, and diagnosing and treating osteoporosis should also be top of mind.
At Amgen, we are working to make osteoporosis screening and education a cornerstone of your bone health plan for women over 50. To do so for patients requires we begin to move from a “break and fix” healthcare model to a system that predicts and helps prevent life-altering fractures from happening in the first place. That is why Amgen is working with patient advocacy groups as well as public and private sector stakeholders to take on challenges facing the osteoporosis community.
Some of these efforts include supporting a multi-year initiative with the CDC Foundation to help prevent falls in older adults and a campaign with Susan G. Komen Foundation and American Bone Health to increase osteoporosis screening among women in the U.S. and Italy.
Screening for osteoporosis involves a brief, painless test.
A bone density test is the only test that can diagnose osteoporosis before a broken bone occurs. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends a bone density test of the hip and spine through a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, commonly known as a DXA scan, to diagnose osteoporosis. DXA scans (pronounced dexa) are non-invasive and painless tests that measure bone mineral density at the spine and hip. Bone mineral density helps determine your risk for bone fractures due to osteoporosis and you don’t even have to remove your clothes (but you do need to make sure no buttons or zippers are in the way of the area to be scanned).
Take a look at a photo of the DXA scan experience.
Some people can work to reduce their risk of an osteoporosis fracture through lifestyle modification.
Lifestyle adjustments can help to improve musculoskeletal integrity and balance, preserve bone strength and help prevent future fractures. These adjustments include a healthy diet with calcium and Vitamin D; participation in regular, weight-bearing, resistance and balance-improving exercises to help minimize risk of falls; and avoiding excessive use of alcohol (>3 drinks per day). Talk to your doctor about what exercises may be right for you. Adopting these modifications as a ‘bone healthy’ lifestyle is important for everyone, regardless of age.
Exercise and a healthy diet can help promote bone health.
Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about a bone health plan and ask about getting a bone density test.
While good nutrition and regular exercise are important parts of managing both your overall and bone health, they may not be enough on their own for women with osteoporosis. Read more in the NOF Healthy Bones Guide.LEARN MORE ABOUT A TREATMENT OPTION