Classified as the most common of metabolic bone diseases, osteoporosis affects an estimated 10 million Americans and poses a risk to roughly 44 million more. Though it can develop at any age in both men and women, it is most frequently found in older adults and women experiencing menopause.
The medical community fears that osteoporosis may turn into an epidemic, both within our borders and around the world. Yet it’s a preventable and highly treatable condition when caught and addressed early. That’s why during May, Unicity Healthcare will join countless organizations across the United States in recognizing National Osteoporosis Month. Here’s a breakdown of the condition and what you should know about raising awareness and support for this cause.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a common condition that causes bones to become weak, often resulting in fractures. It is frequently referred to as a silent disease, as many with the condition don’t know they have it. In these cases, a broken bone is usually the disease’s first indicator. While fractures may not sound serious, osteoporosis is a dangerous disease and 24% of patients over the age of 50 pass away in the year following an osteoporosis-related hip fracture.
But how does osteoporosis occur in the first place? Several risk factors raise an individual’s likelihood of developing this condition, including:
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Petite body structure with thin bones
- Inactive lifestyle
- Prolonged periods of bed rest
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Long-term use of certain medications
- Lifelong nutritional deficiencies of vitamin D and calcium
- Age, which causes bones to become weaker and thinner
- Certain ethnicities, including Caucasian, Asian, African American, or Hispanic descent
As noted above, women are especially prone to osteoporosis. The odds of developing the condition increase during menopause, making this a critical time for awareness and prevention.
Raising Awareness Throughout May
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 50% of all American adults over the age of 50 are at risk for developing osteoporosis. Surprisingly, men are more likely to develop osteoporosis than they are to receive a prostate cancer diagnosis, and one in two women will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture – a higher rate of incidence than breast cancer, heart attacks, and strokes combined. And when patients are diagnosed, they learn that every bone fracture they experience means another could happen at any time.
These facts alone make National Osteoporosis Month extremely important. As with so many conditions, early diagnosis and treatment are essential for positive outcomes. The disease can also be managed and even prevented by making healthy lifestyle changes, such as:
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting the intake of alcohol
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Getting the daily recommended amounts of vitamin D and calcium
- Incorporating weight-bearing exercises focused on strengthening the muscles
- Asking your doctor about when to receive a bone density test
- Taking medication to fight osteoporosis if applicable
Spreading the Message in Our Community
As a New Jersey care management provider serving seniors in Ridgewood, Cranford, Montclair, Morristown, and beyond, Unicity Healthcare is proud to participate in National Osteoporosis Month. We’ve seen firsthand the effects the disease can have on our clients, which is why we are taking proactive steps to educate our community on osteoporosis and what can be done to reduce its impacts.
To learn more about this initiative or care management services in Hudson and Somerset counties, contact us today.