Essay by lybrian1High School, 12th grade December 2008

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OsteoporosisOsteoporosis is a bone disease affecting 28 million Americans. Osteoporosis is characterized by a decrease in bone density and the progression of bone loss. This results in bones that are more porous and more easily fractured than normal bones. The disease is often undetected for many years with no symptoms or discomfort until a fracture occurs due to the decreased bone density in the individual. Nearly 80 percent of all cases of osteoporosis primarily affect women. White and Asian women are the most susceptible to the disease, but women of all races can be at risk. Other factors can affect the progression of osteoporosis including low calcium intake, a thin build, inadequate physical activity, certain drugs, cigarette smoking, alcohol, and a family history of the disease.

Osteoporosis can lead to fractures and is estimated to cause 1.5 million bone fractures each year. It affects one in two women and one in five men older than 65 years of age.

Many of these are painful fractures of the hip which often occur as a result of a fall. Patients of the disease who suffer a hip fracture are referred to their primary care physicians for osteoporosis follow-up care. The most serious fractures for osteoporosis sufferers are of the hip. Most patients who experience a hip fracture will require home care after the injury. Patients of a hip fracture require walking aids for several months. About half of patients will permanently need canes or walkers to aid their mobility.

Fractures occur more frequently in the elderly because of their skeletal fragility and increased risk of falls. Also factors that can increase risks of falls in elderly people include poor muscle strength, postural instability, visual impairment, use of certain medications causing dizziness and drowsiness, and indoor and outdoor hazards. Any bone will...