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Musculoskeletal Health Roundtable recommends action to sustain active and healthy aging
Sep 6, 2012 - 4:00:00 AM

The International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) and the Cyprus Society Against Osteoporosis and Musculoskeletal Diseases today hosted an event in Nicosia, Cyprus to call attention to the importance of musculoskeletal health for Europe's growing population of senior citizens.

The Roundtable is held in 2012 during the European Year for Active Ageing which aims to recognize and promote the important contribution of Europe's 30 million senior citizens to society. The event was hosted in conjunction with the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union, with an opening address from the Cyprus Minister of Health, Dr. Stavros Malas.

Age-related chronic diseases, and in particular musculoskeletal health issues such as fragility fractures, osteoarthritis and sarcopenia, have a far-reaching impact on the health status of Europe's older population. Fragility fractures are common in older adults and at the age of 50 up to one in two women and one in five men will go on to suffer a fragility fracture.

The economic burden of fragility fractures exceeds that of many other age-related diseases, including stroke, MS and Parkinson's disease. Fractures, particularly of the vertebrae and hip, can result in substantial pain and suffering, disability, loss of quality of life and even early death, with 20% dying in the year following the fracture. Thirty-three per cent of seniors who suffer a hip fracture become physically impaired and lose their ability to live independently.

IOF President John Kanis commented, A recent IOF study revealed that, in Europe's five largest countries and Sweden alone, some 2.5 million new fragility fractures occur annually, or the equivalent of 280 fractures per hour. Osteoporosis and fractures occur primarily in seniors and prevalence generally increases with age. This is a cause for concern due to the projected growth in Europe's ageing population. Between the years 2000 and 2050, the population of seniors aged 65 and over has been projected to increase by 55% in women and 81% in men, and the increase in the numbers of seniors aged 80+ will be a staggering 160% and 239% respectively.

He added, We must brace ourselves for a tremendous increase in age-related musculoskeletal diseases and fragility fractures. Effective measures to mitigate the socio- and health-economic burden of chronic diseases in all countries of the EU are urgently required.

The upcoming publication of an 'EU Policy Scorecard' which will audit and compare osteoporosis-related data and policies in the EU is eagerly anticipated as it will highlight the areas and countries which require most attention by health policy officials. Another important focus of the IOF and other organizations worldwide is the improvement of secondary fracture prevention. IOF has launched the 'Capture the Fracture' programme to facilitate and promote the implementation of coordinator-based, multidisciplinary models of care in hospitals and clinics around the world. Such models of care have been shown to be the most effective in reducing the rates of secondary fractures.

Professor Juliet Compston, chair of the the EU Osteoporosis Consultation Panel, explained, People who have experienced a fracture are high-risk candidates for further fractures, and without treatment many will go on to suffer a cycle of debilitating and life-threatening fractures. Unfortunately, some 80% of fragility fracture patients are sent home without assessment or treatment for osteoporosis. Yet, osteoporosis treatment for fracture patients has been shown to reduce the overall incidence of costly hip fractures by 20-25%.

Dr. Kyriacos Christofi and Dr. George Georgiades, president and vice-president, respectively, of the Cyprus Society against Osteoporosis and Musculoskeletal Diseases, highlighted the need for policy support for large scale epidemiological fracture studies and the need for a Fracture Registry in Cyprus.

Given the immense importance of musculoskeletal health to the independence and quality of life of senior citizens, Roundtable participants urged health policy officials throughout Europe, in this EU Year of Active Ageing, to take immediate action to promote healthy ageing and to implement effective models of post-fracture care that will reduce the impact of secondary fractures.

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