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Osteoporosis facts and treatment options

At least one in three women and one in five men experience an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime. Osteoporosis can result in a reduction or loss of mobility, decreased independence and in more extreme cases, disfigurement.

What is osteoporosis?

According to Osteoporosis Canada, “osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture (broken bones), particularly of the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder. Osteoporosis is often known as ‘the silent thief’ because bone loss occurs without symptoms.”

Here is what you need to know about this disease:

  • It can occur at any age
  • It affects both men and women
  • No single cause of the disease has been identified
  • Building strong bones during childhood is the best defence against developing the disease later in life
  • Risk factors include age, sex, previous injury and fractures, and medications or medical conditions that contribute to bone loss

Fractures and broken bones as a result of osteoporosis are common. In fact, they are more common than the rate of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. It’s important to know the factors that may increase your risk of getting the disease: a drop in estrogen levels in women after menopause, lack of exercise, insufficient calcium and vitamin D intake, family history of osteoporosis, body type, poor health habits and existing health conditions could all increase your risk.

Statistical facts

Osteoporosis Canada reports the following figures:

  • Osteoporosis causes more than 80% of all fractures in people 50 years of age and older
  • Osteoporosis causes 70% to 90% of 30,000 hip fractures every year
  • Osteoporotic hip fractures are associated with more hospital bed days than stroke, diabetes or heart attack
  • 28% of women and 37% of men who have a hip fracture die within the following year
  • Fewer than 20% of people with fractures undergo diagnosis or sufficient treatment for osteoporosis

Treatment options

One of the main issues with diagnosing and treating osteoporosis is that it does not always have noticeable symptoms, and many people do not know they have the disease until after a fracture occurs.

Preventing and reducing the incidence of bone fractures and maintaining good bone density are the keys to reducing risk. Calcium intake is an important factor in maintaining good bone health.

Osteoporosis Canada recommends “1,000 mg of elemental calcium daily for men and women between the ages of 19 and 50 years, and 1,200 mg for men and women over the age of 50 years.” Regular physical activity that includes weight-bearing exercises, such as weight training, walking and other cardiovascular workouts, in conjunction with healthy lifestyle choices are also important.

Health insurance coverage for osteoporosis medications

Certain prescription drugs for osteoporosis may be covered by your provincial drug plan. Learn more about how osteoporosis medications are categorized and which ones are covered in your province on the Osteoporosis Canada website. To ensure you have the coverage you need to manage the costs associated with osteoporosis, consider private health insurance coverage. Get a free quote for affordable health insurance with Blue Cross today.