Breaking The Silence On Osteoporosis

Half of the people who suffered a fragility fracture were unaware that it is a symptom of osteoporosis, according to a survey conducted by the Fight the Fracture campaign.

AsianScientist (Oct. 10, 2017) – When Madam Zhang, 68, suffered a fracture while on holiday in Japan, she experienced excruciating pain, and the road to recovery was long and arduous. The incident revealed that she was suffering from osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bone over time, making them thinner, more brittle and more likely to break. She is now being treated for the disease, and is exercising extra caution to avoid another fall.

“I am glad my osteoporosis is being treated now, as I cannot risk another fracture—my orthopedic specialist told me that a second fracture within a year of the first one could be fatal,” she said.

By 2050, it is estimated that half of the world’s hip fractures will occur in Asia. Across the region, the cost of treating a hip fracture, on average, is equivalent to 19 percent of GDP per capita. Around 25 percent of patients who sustain a hip fracture die within a year, and less than half of those who survive regain their previous level of function.

“Fragility fractures are an epidemic that is growing in Asia Pacific and exerting a serious human, societal and economic cost in all countries which urgently needs to be addressed,” said Professor Cyrus Cooper, President of the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

Greater awareness necessary

Early diagnosis of osteoporosis could prevent fractures in seniors, especially in post-menopausal women. However, there is still a lack of awareness and understanding among patients, their families and caregivers surrounding the disease and the prevention of fragility fractures, according to the recent Fight the Fracture-IOF Survey 2017.

Through interviews with 400 patients from five Asian territories aged 60 years and over who had suffered a fragility fracture in the last two years, it was revealed that almost 74 percent of patients in the Asia Pacific who have had a fragility fracture say they are worried or very worried about breaking another bone.

Despite this, 29 percent of patients did not discuss fracture prevention and osteoporosis with their doctor. Although a majority of patients (78 percent) claim they know what osteoporosis is, over 80 percent of patients believe that weak bones are an inevitable feature of the normal aging process.

Moreover, almost 40 percent of patients were not sure, or did not believe that they are at risk of having another fracture. Research shows, however, that once a patient suffers a fragility fracture, the risk of a future fracture increases up to ten times. 37 percent of patients say they were diagnosed with osteoporosis only after multiple subsequent visits to their doctor, and four out of five of individuals who had a late diagnosis wish they had found out earlier.

“Fragility fractures have crippling consequences for patients and their families. A second or third fracture is even more devastating for a patient, potentially costing his or her healthy mobility, independence or even life,” said Cooper. “These findings are welcomed, timely evidence of the urgent need for greater awareness and understanding among patients, their families and caregivers.”

Stronger together

The Fight the Fracture-IOF Survey 2017 is the first phase of the Fight the Fracture campaign collaboratively organized by the Asian Federation of Osteoporosis Societies (AFOS), IOF and Amgen. The campaign aims to empower patients who have suffered a fragility fracture and their caregivers to proactively seek medical professional help in secondary care prevention—the prevention of a subsequent fracture—by providing them with educational information, tools and resources.

With this support in place, patients will have a better understanding and awareness of fragility fractures and a common underlying cause, osteoporosis, which would encourage them to take the necessary steps to initiate a conversation with their doctor toward improved, proactive management of their condition.

“Fragility fracture is becoming a major health issue and a matter of urgency for the community to tackle. Addressing patient awareness is one important part of the equation; work needs to continue to enable physicians to optimize post-fracture care for these patients,” said Dr. Fen Lee Hew, President of AFOS.

“With a fast aging population, we are at a critical point where our social and health systems need to be ready for the escalating burden of fragility fractures,” said Ms. Penny Wan, Regional Vice President and General Manager, Japan Asia Pacific (JAPAC) at Amgen. “The time to act is now and Fight the Fracture is just the beginning. As a leader in bone health, we are passionate about enhancing patient outcomes by working with a community of like-minded partners in developing systematic solutions.”

Asian Scientist Magazine is a media partner of Amgen.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Shutterstock; Infographic: Amgen.
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