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Bone density loss from osteoporosis is a major cause of disability and death in the elderly, mostly due to subsequent fractures. The lifetime risk of spinal fracture in women is about one in three, and that for hip fracture is one in six. Women at highest risk for fractures are those with low bone density plus a history of fractures, particularly nonviolent fractures.
Osteoporosis causes more than 1.5 million fractures annually. About 50% of women and 25% of men over age 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture during their lifetime. Each year, there are about 700,000 spinal fractures, 300,000 hip fractures, 250,000 broken wrists and more than 300,000 fractures of other bones. About 80% of these fractures occur after relatively minor falls or accidents.
Unfortunately, studies continue to report inadequate treatment after a fracture. Few patients with sustained fractures are tested or treated for osteoporosis.
Risk Factors for Fracture and Falling. In addition to low bone density, falling is the primary risk factor for fractures. Additional risk factors for fracture are those that increase the risk for falling. They include:
Hip fractures can increase the risk of death in both men and women. Complications of hip fractures include hospital-acquired infections and blood clots in the lungs.
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