Welcome to May–National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month! Unfortunately, few people know that. Osteoporosis is like the red-headed stepchild of health–it gets no respect or attention. Let me give you a high profile example.
News flashed across the country with President Bill Clinton’s hospitalization in February 2010. The medical experts weighed in on the possible causes of his chest pain. Diagrams of the heart displayed the coronary arteries. The experts educated us on “stents” used to open up his blockages and restore vital blood flow to the heart. They discussed the lifestyle changes President Clinton had made that included weight loss, improved diet with avoiding the fast foods, controlling his cholesterol and exercise.
In a later interview, President Clinton boasted, “I haven’t let a French fry touch my lips since my heart surgery.” Despite all these measures, he still experienced progression of his heart disease. The natural history of coronary heart disease was explained over and over.
The discussion and media attention on heart disease was educational. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, the information was helpful for all of us to think about ways to improve our own heart health.
In contrast, a year earlier Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fell in a parking lot and broke her arm. This event was virtually ignored in the media. Granted her fracture was not life threatening. However, a fracture of your arm is a chest pain or angina equivalent. The chances of having the “BIG ONE” is increased at least five fold. What do I mean by the “BIG ONE?”– a hip fracture.
Hip fractures are killers. One in three men with a hip fracture will die within a year after their hip fracture. One in four women with a hip fracture will die. Those are terrible odds. Even if you don’t die, your life will most likely take a turn that you don’t like. Six months after a hip fracture, most people are unable to walk across the room without the aid of a cane or walker. Most likely, you will not be able to return to your home.
Hip fractures are preventable. If you have angina, we do everything possible to prevent a heart attack. We need to do the same for preventing fractures. Let’s use Hillary Clinton’s arm fracture as education to improve our bone health!
-Diane L. Schneider, MD
Image: Courtesy of creativedoxfoto /FreeDigitalPhotos.net