Osteoporosis considerations in the frail elderly.
Osteoporosis is a growing public health problem throughout the world, in part because of the increasing numbers of people living beyond the age of 65 years. Skeletal fractures are the clinical manifestation of the disease, with older patients the most severely affected. Conditions associated with frailty such as falls and reduced muscle strength likely contribute to fractures, causing substantial mortality, morbidity, and economic cost. Screening guidelines for osteoporosis have been issued recently and take into account multiple risk factors for this condition. Falls are the chief mechanism by which osteoporotic fractures occur. Nonpharmacologic interventions for osteoporosis mainly address fall and frailty prevention, whereas pharmacologic interventions target bone loss through decreasing bone resorption, increasing bone formation, or a combination of both processes. Although guidelines for intervention strategies are in flux, it is now suggested that absolute fracture risk rather than diagnostic thresholds be used to determine the timing for therapeutic intervention. Individual risks and benefits of therapies need to be considered before choosing a therapeutic regimen.
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