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Osteopenia (cont.)

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How widespread is osteopenia?

Osteopenia affects an estimated 34 million people in the United States. Approximately 80% of those affected are women. Nevertheless, men also can be affected by osteopenia and osteoporosis and should also be evaluated for these bone conditions when they are considered to be at risk.

Why is osteopenia important?

Osteopenia is important because it can cause bone fractures. People with osteopenia are not as likely to fracture a bone as those with osteoporosis; however, because there are many more people with osteopenia than osteoporosis, patients with osteopenia account for a large number of patients who fracture a bone. In other words, while osteoporosis indicates bone that is more prone to fracture and people with osteoporosis have a higher percentage risk of fracture than osteopenia, because of the much larger number of people with osteopenia there is a greater total number of fractures in these people.

Approximately 50% of Caucasian women will fracture a bone in their lifetime. Bone fractures due to osteopenia and osteoporosis are important because they can be very painful, although some spinal (vertebral) fractures are painless.

In addition to the pain, hip fractures are a serious problem because they require surgical repair. Also, up to 30% of patients require long-term nursing-home care after a hip fracture. Fractures, especially in the elderly, are associated with an increase in overall mortality (death rate). Approximately 20% of people die in the year following hip fracture, due to complications including blood clots related to immobility, pneumonia, and many other reasons.

The total cost to the U.S. health system for bone fractures due to osteopenia and osteoporosis is estimated at over $15 billion. Due to the aging population, the number of hip fractures, and the related costs, could double or triple by 2040.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/26/2013

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Osteopenia - Causes Question: If known, what is the cause of your osteopenia?
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Osteopenia - Diagnosis Question: Describe the events that led to a diagnosis of osteopenia.
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