Osteoporosis – The Baby Boomers Bane

New York, NY—May 1, 2003 

Did YOU know that:

  • Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease in America.
  • 28 million Americans are affected by osteoporosis, 20 percent of them are men.
  • 200 million people worldwide have some level of the disease.
  • 1 in 2 women and 1 in 8 men older than 50 are expected to sustain at least one osteoporotic related fracture in their lifetime.
  • $10 billion is spent each year to treat osteoporotic fractures. By the year 2020, experts predict the cost will exceed $60 billion.

These alarming statistics clearly show that osteoporosis is not only a disease of global proportions but also the bane of baby boomers. Taking a multi-disciplinary team approach, the staff of the Hospital for Special Surgery‘s (HSS) Osteoporosis Center is at the forefront of responding to this epidemic.

According to Judith Andariese, RN, Director of HSS‘ Osteoporosis Center, "Those drastic statistics can be changed. You can change your risk for osteoporosis by following three simple steps: 1) Get more calcium and Vitamin D in your body. 2) Get more exercise in your life. 3) Get more knowledge in your world about osteoporosis and your bones."

"Calcium is like money, it‘s not just what you take in, it‘s what you keep," explains Ms. Andariese. Again, knowledge can make the difference. Example, depending on age, we need 1000-1500mg of calcium a day. But our bodies can only handle about 500mg at once so it‘s recommended that you take three doses a day.

Dairy products are vital calcium sources. Mustard, collard and turnip greens also are calcium-packed. So too are bok choy and kale. But don‘t rely on spinach. The oxalates in spinach make its calcium "almost completely unavailable" according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Bone Density Scan--Find Out How Your Bones Are Doing Now

Andariese continues, "Osteoporosis has been called the "silent" disease because the loss of bone tissue progresses gradually without pain or signs and symptoms before a fracture occurs. However, recent advances have given our specialists more ways to detect the disease. The best test to determine the state of your bones is called a DEXA. Available at the Osteoporosis Center, this is a low-level x-ray measuring important bone sites. It‘s non-invasive, painless and takes about twenty minutes.

At the Center, after the test, patients have a one-to-one consultation with a Nurse Clinician. "We go over the test results in detail," explains Ms.Andariese. "And recommend a tailor-made bone health plan, People can ask all the questions they want and get personal answers. Many patients have found this unhurried access to a health expert deeply empowering."

The Forefront of Prevention & Treatment Taking a multi-disciplinary team approach, the staff of the Osteoporosis Center is at the forefront of prevention and innovative treatment.

The best prevention strategy is to start early. Acquiring peak bone mineral density levels before age 25 is most important. During this period, weight-bearing activities such as walking, running, dancing, and sports that require weight-bearing impact are essential. Equally important is the daily intake of calcium (1300 mg) and Vitamin D (400 iu) for both males and females.

For older adults, walking, general strengthening exercises and activities such as, T‘ai Chi, along with falls prevention strategies are suggested to reduce the risk of fracture.

Several drug treatment regimens are now available to reduce both the rate of bone loss and the risk of fractures:

  • Biophosphate drugs, such as Fosamax and Actonel will increase bone density and reduce the risk of fracture. Fosamax also has been approved for use by men.
  • SERMS (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators) such as Evista will also increase bone density and studies have shown reduce the risk of fracture in the spine more than the hip.
  • Estrogens are still considered to maintain bone density.
  • Parathyroid hormone (teraparatide, known as Forteo) is an injectable treatment that enhances bone formation.
  • Calcitonin (sold as Miacalcin) is a nasal spray formulation that modestly reduces bone turnover and appears to decrease the incidence of spinal fractures. It is purported to have some analgesic effects for acute spinal fractures.

The Osteoporosis Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery is the preeminent facility in the world for preventing and treating osteoporosis. The first of its kind, it was recognized by Congress as a "model" for other organizations to follow.

About Hospital for Special Surgery
Founded in 1863, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) is a world leader in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation. HSS is nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics, No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S. News & World Report (2007), and has received Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In the 2006 edition of HealthGrades' Hospital Quality in America Study, HSS received five-star ratings for clinical excellence in its specialties. A member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System and an affiliate of Weill Medical College of Cornell University, HSS provides orthopedic and rheumatologic patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center. All Hospital for Special Surgery medical staff are on the faculty of Weill Medical College of Cornell University. The hospital's research division is internationally recognized as a leader in the investigation of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases. Hospital for Special Surgery is located in New York City and online at www.hss.edu.

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