Osteoporosis is a disease that affects 10 million Americans, 80 percent of whom are women. A skeletal disorder characterized by a loss of bone density, osteoporosis predisposes the individual to an increased risk of bone fracture. Fractures most commonly associated with this disease included those of the spine, hip and wrist. In the U.S., osteoporosis results in more than 1.5 million fractures each year. Half of the people who suffer a hip fracture are permanently incapacitated, and they have a 24 percent increase in mortality the first year after the fracture occurs.
In women, the number of osteoporotic fractures exceeds the incidence of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. Women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone density in the first 5 to 7 years after menopause. The good news is that osteoporosis is preventable and can be diagnosed prior to fracture with a painless test known as bone densitometry (DXA).
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