Through a survey of the literature and an analysis of selected national and regional statistics, a review of the incidence of osteoporosis and its consequences was performed. Results illustrate that the consequences of osteoporosis are preventable and should sensitize clinicians to the importance of early detection and the identification of risk factors for disease prevention and to early treatment once disease has been established. A marked increase in the annual incidence of hip fractures in all Canadians is noted. Whereas the incidence was less than 20,000 in 1981, the incidence of hip fracture grew to 27,342 in 1995, with 73% occurring in women. It is estimated that in Canada at least one in four women older than 50 years will have one or more osteoporosis-related fractures in their lifetimes. The consequences of these fractures are considerable, both for patients and healthcare services. Only half of all victims regain total autonomy, and the total direct costs in Canada stemming from osteoporosis are estimated to be $1.3 billion per year.
Osteoporosis is a systemic disease characterized by bone mass deficiency and deterioration of the bone's microarchitecture. Consequently, bone that is fragile by nature has increased susceptibility to fractures. 1 Osteoporosis has serious physical, psychosocial, and financial consequences, placing a significant burden on individuals, on the families of those affected, and on society. Fractures related to osteoporosis often entail a number of serious complications, which in turn lead to enormous expense and often death.