A study presented last week at EULAR 2012, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism, is increasing awareness of the consequences of osteoporosis in the over-80 population, called the extreme elderly population, as we learn the true impact of osteoporotic hip fractures in that age bracket. About 4.3 million people over age 65 with osteoporotic hip fractures were studied using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS). Results showed that 67.3 percent of hip fractures occur among the extreme elderly, a rise from 172,209 in 1993 to 180,428 in 2008 (at the same time, overall hip fracture prevalence decreased from 2,236 to 1,600 per 1,000 person-years). There has also been a dramatic rise in the size of the extreme elderly population during this period, from 7.7 million in 1993 to 11.2 million in 2008.
Another worrisome statistic is that, in 2008, the extreme elderly made up 42.3 percent of the elderly population, but accounted for 69 percent of hospitalizations. "We know that hip fracture in the extreme elderly is a serious problem due to the associated consequences of hospitalization, disability and mortality," said Amrita Sehgal of the University of California Berkeley and lead study author. "This data is cause for concern as the impact highlighted will only increase along with this population segment. The question now is how we manage the extreme elderly more effectively to limit the impact that osteoporotic fractures have going forward."
With the extreme elderly population predicted to account for 25 percent of the total US population by 2050, the study calls for more aggressive measures so that osteoporosis can be more effectively prevented, diagnosed and treated. Talk to your doctor about being evaluated for osteoporosis or about new ways to combat it. To get ideas on preventing falls, a leading cause of fracture, read “Fall Prevention Awareness: The Importance of Home Safety Steps” by Peter Ross.