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Economy is Driving Osteoporotic Women to Retire Later - But Their Ability to Work May Be Undermined by Sub-optimal Management of Their Disease - Virginia

07/29/2009

Last Updated: 09/17/2009

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National Census Data Shows Osteoporosis Rates to Increase by an Estimated 41 Percent Among Virginians by 2020

Special Council of Health and Women's Groups Formed to Encourage Women to Make Bone Health a Priority Before They Break a Bone

Virginia - More than 185,000 women suffer from postmenopausal osteoporosis (PMO) in Virginia and more than 500,000 are at risk for the disease. According to a census report on the prevalence of osteoporosis, the number of women suffering from the disease is predicted to increase in Virginia by more than 41 percent by 2020. Despite this predicted increase, a national Harris Interactive survey commissioned by the Know My Bones Council showed (n=889 with PMO; n=912 without PMO) that many women suffering from osteoporosis are not optimally managing their disease despite the need and desire to work longer, putting them at greater risk for fracture. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation fracture may lead to chronic pain, disability, and even death.

The Council, led by the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Society for Women's Health Research, announced results from a national survey of more than 1,800 American women, which revealed that one-out-of-five women with PMO are retiring later than anticipated and nearly half (48 percent) blame the current economy. Despite the need to work longer, half of the women with PMO are fearful that the disease will limit their ability to work. However, the research shows that many women are not optimally managing their osteoporosis.

"Statistics show that in the next decade the number of Virginians who will suffer from osteoporosis will rapidly increase by 41 percent, but what concerns me even more is the number of women suffering from osteoporosis who do not optimally manage their bone health," said JoAnn V. Pinkerton, Director, Midlife Health Center and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Virginia. "After practicing medicine for more than 25 years, I have seen the impact osteoporosis can have on a woman. More than ever before, it is imperative for women to actively manage their bone health. For those suffering from postmenopausal osteoporosis, I strongly encourage them to reach out to their healthcare provider to see if they are candidates for bone density testing, and to make bone health a priority."

National survey results show many women with postmenopausal osteoporosis are not optimally managing their disease:

  • Less than half (46 percent) of women with PMO knew their bone density score
    • Women with PMO were no more likely to know their bone density score than those without the disease (46 percent versus 44 percent)
  • More than a quarter (27 percent) of the survey respondents reported that they often do not take their osteoporosis medication
  • Only a little more than one-third (35 percent) of women reported initiating discussion of the disease with their doctor

The Council is unified with the goal of encouraging women living with PMO, including those in Virginia to prioritize their bone health and to seek information that will empower them to fight the disease. The Council, led by the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the Society for Women's Health Research, also includes the American Association of University Women, the American Business Women's Association, the National Women's Health Resource Center, and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health with sponsorship and participation from Amgen.

The Council encourages women to seek information and to take charge of their osteoporosis by visiting KnowMyBones.com, a Web site that will grow overtime and provide alerts and information about bone health and optimally managing osteoporosis.

About Osteoporosis

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis, often referred to as a "silent disease," is increasing in significance as the population of our nation both increases and ages. The World Health Organization, the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the U.S. Surgeon General have officially declared osteoporosis a public health crisis. In fact, osteoporosis and associated fractures are a significant cause of mortality and morbidity.

  • In the US today, nearly eight million women suffer from osteoporosis
  • Almost 34 million Americans are estimated to have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis
  • Half of women over 50 in the US will experience an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime
  • The impact of breaking a bone is significant and often leads to a downward spiral for the patient
    • A woman who has broken a bone as a result of osteoporosis has more than an 8 out of 10 greater chance of breaking another bone
    • One in four women who have broken a bone will fracture again within a year
    • Half of the women who break a hip will permanently need assistance to walk
    • Nearly one in four women who have broken a hip will die within one year
  • By 2025, the annual direct costs of treating osteoporosis fractures in the US are estimated at $25 billion

With menopause, bone loss occurs faster than new bone can form as a result of lower levels of estrogen, leading to osteoporosis. In fact, women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone density in the five to seven years after menopause begins. This decreased bone mineral density weakens the bone and puts women at higher risk for fractures or broken bones.

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About the Know My Bones Council
Guided by the belief that the path to optimal bone health can be found through educating and empowering women to more actively manage their disease, six leading women's advocacy groups have joined forces to create the Know My Bones Council. The Council, formed in 2009 with sponsorship and participation from Amgen, unified with the goal of encouraging women living with PMO to prioritize their bone health and to seek information that will empower them to fight the disease.

The Know My Bones Council includes the following groups:
National Osteoporosis Foundation: Established in 1984, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) is the nation's leading voluntary health organization solely dedicated to osteoporosis and bone health. The NOF's mission is to prevent osteoporosis and related fractures, to promote lifelong bone health, to help improve the lives of those affected by osteoporosis and to find a cure through programs of awareness, advocacy, public and health professional education and research. More information is available at www.nof.org.
Society for Women's Health Research: The Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR) is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health of all women through advocacy, education and research. The Society encourages the study of sex differences between women and men that affect the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. More information is available at www.womenshealthresearch.org.
American Association of University Women: Since 1881, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) has been the nation's leading voice promoting education and equity for women and girls. The foundation's mission has been advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research. More information is available at www.aauw.org.
American Business Women's Association: Founded in 1949, the American Business Women's Association's (ABWA) mission is to bring together businesswomen of diverse occupations and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership with education, networking support and national recognition. More information is available at www.abwa.org.
National Women's Health Resource Center: The not-for-profit National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) is the leading independent consumer health information source for women. Through nationwide public education campaigns and personal assistance, NWHRC has helped women be informed health care consumers for more than 20 years. More information is available at www.HealthyWomen.org.
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health: The National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health (NPWH) was founded in 1980. NPWH represents nurse practitioners that provide care to women in the primary care setting as well as in women's health specialty practices. More information is available at www.npwh.org.
Amgen: Amgen discovers, develops, manufactures and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing safe and effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com.

About the Survey
The survey was conducted online between March 25, and April 1, 2009, by Harris Interactive. There were 1801completed surveys received from respondents who met the screening criteria. The survey included 889 U.S. women with postmenopausal osteoporosis and 912 postmenopausal women who did not have osteoporosis; all women were aged 50+. The data were weighted to reflect age, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' likelihood to be online.

About the NOF Report "America's Bone Health"
America's Bone Health: The State of Osteoporosis and Low Bone Mass in Our Nation is an update to the National Osteoporosis Foundation's (NOF) first prevalence report published in 1997. This report, like the 1997 version, highlights the estimated number of women and men age fifty and older in the United States who have or are at high risk for developing osteoporosis due to low bone mass. Prevalence estimates are based on 2000 Census data and are presented for the year 2002, 2010 and 2020. Prevalence percentage increases are reflective of women with osteoporosis between 2002 and 2020.

Virtual Press Kit:
Media can visit www.knowmybonespresskit.com for media materials and to request the full survey report.

Contact:
Heather Rabinowitz
National Osteoporosis Foundation
(202) 721-6359

Karen Young
Society for Women's Health Research
202) 496-5001

Leslie Bryant
Hill & Knowlton
(310) 633-9435