Millions of Older Americans at Risk for Bone Fracture
The coronavirus pandemic has made it necessary for doctors’ offices around the country to postpone elective procedures and conduct patient visits remotely via telemedicine, whenever possible. In the world of osteoporosis treatment, this presents a problem, as in-person visits are required for certain injection therapies that must be administered by a trained healthcare professional.
It can be tempting to overlook the risks of missing osteoporosis treatment during a world health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to its lack of symptoms, osteoporosis has been called the silent killer or the silent epidemic, but the disease can often lead to early death, or force older people to give up their independence and move into an assisted living facility.
In the United States, 10.2 million women and men age 50 and older have osteoporosis, and 43.4 million Americans over 50 have low bone mass and are at a higher risk of fracture, according to data published in November 2014 in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. The overall risk of dying within one year of a hip fracture is about 1 in 5 for people age 60 or older, according to research published in the Geriatric Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation journal.
Experts are concerned about the short- and long-term impact of people stopping their osteoporosis therapy, and for good reason. Some hospitals are experiencing as much as an 80 percent decrease in osteoporosis treatment visits, according to a release issued by the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.