Preventing Osteoporosis Fractures

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Summary & Participants

The greatest fear among women living with osteoporosis is bone fracture. Hip or spinal fractures can be devastating to the lives of otherwise healthy women. Tune in as we take a close look at the risk of fractures in those with osteoporosis, and what can be done to avoid them.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2012

Webcast Transcript

DAVID R. MARKS, MD: Hi, and welcome to our webcast. I'm Dr. David Marks. For women with osteoporosis, the biggest concern is not thinning bones, it's broken bones. Hip or spinal fractures can be devastating to the lives of otherwise healthy women. Today we'll take a close look at the risk of fractures and what can be done to avoid them.

Joining me is Dr. Michelle Warren. She's the Director of the Center for Menopause, Hormone Disorders and Women's Health at Columbia University in New York. We're glad to have you here.

Now, what are the consequences of undiagnosed osteoporosis?

MICHELLE WARREN, MD: Basically fractures, and they're devastating whenever they occur, but spinal fractures often go undiagnosed and cause terrible pain. Women go to bed for two weeks and lose height and they develop an ugly hump, and they can develop gastrointestinal problems as the spine collapses. The hip fractures are even more devastating because almost 20 percent of women who have a hip fracture die if they're over 65.

DAVID R. MARKS, MD: Are hip fractures the most common fracture?

MICHELLE WARREN, MD: Spinal fractures are the most common, but they often go undiagnosed, which is interesting. We focus on hip fractures because after an elderly patient has had a hip fracture, the quality of life is so affected.

DAVID R. MARKS, MD: Tell me how it affects a person's life. Some people might think, "A hip fracture, okay. So you break your leg and you get better." That's not the case?

MICHELLE WARREN, MD: Not if you've ever taken care of anybody elderly. What happens is hospitalization, operation, physical therapy, and very often a nursing home for a while until the patient learns the skills to walk again. And then the issue is whether they're going to be able to live alone. So that depends on how good their balance is and how good their strength is. Very often it's related to age, but in the population that's over 70, it's a devastating thing, and it very often means that they become dependent on others.

DAVID R. MARKS, MD: I've heard a lot about people who were healthy and had a hip fracture, and then they kind of went downhill from there mentally and physically. Do you see that often?

MICHELLE WARREN, MD: It's very common. I think not only do doctors worry about it, but patients themselves recognize this because they've seen it in their friends.

DAVID R. MARKS, MD: What is it about this? There's no connection between the head and the hip. What is it about this problem?

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