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An overview of osteoporosis

Nurses play a key role in risk assessment and helping patients adhere to medication, explains Julia Thomson

The consequences of osteoporosis are well known – one in two women and one in five men break a bone after the age of 50.1 Notably, these breaks include vertebral compression fractures, which are often hidden but have a devastating impact on quality of life, and hip fractures which can put an end to independent living, increase mortality and cost the NHS an estimated £1.9billion a year (excluding the cost of social care).2

The broken bones associated with osteoporosis are described as fragility fractures because they result from mechanical forces that would not ordinarily result in fracture. Until recently osteoporotic fractures were considered to be an inevitable part of ageing. Advances in the understanding of bone biology, improved diagnostic tools and access to sophisticated drug treatments have shown that fracture risk can be reduced dramatically.

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