Monday, August 3, 2009
Osteoporosis is an increasing problem worldwide, largely as a consequence of many more people living long enough to develop the bone-thinning condition. Most concerning is the trajectory from the development of osteoporosis to bone fractures to nursing home care to death, delineated in many studies.
Now the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has sounded an alarm with release of statistics on the treatment of osteoporosis-related hip, pelvis and other fractures between 1995 and 2006, showing an increase in related hospitalizations of 55% during that period. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/nn/nn071709.htm Yikes! It's sure looking like public education efforts notwithstanding, many more people are experiencing the serious manifestations of osteoporosis.
We have very effective, painless screening methods to detect the condition, especially dexa scanning, a type of X-ray. We also have medications, particularly a class of drugs called bisphosphonates, to treat osteoporosis. Best of all, of course, is prevention. That most likely entails weight-bearing exercise such as walking and taking a calcium supplement. These are especially helpful in combination because bones respond to stress by laying down more bone and depositing minerals such as calcium within them.
It's worth mentioning that while the majority of people affected in this study were women, men are increasingly represented in the ranks of those with osteoporosis, especially men aged 80 and beyond. Once again, prevention, screening and treatment are the best options. Other topics this week include another release from the AHRQ: New AHRQ Study Finds Mixed Evidence on Use of Radiofrequency Catheter Ablation for Treating Atrial Fibrillation, one from NEJM: Effects of Pay for Performance on the Quality of Primary Care in England and two from the Lancet Closure of schools during an influenza pandemic and Influenza in immunosuppressed populations: a review of infection frequency, morbidity, mortality, and vaccine responses.