About 20 percent of patients who were hospitalized with bone fractures last year had osteoporotic hip fractures, the Taiwanese Osteoporosis Association said, advising people to ensure sufficient calcium intake and to exercise regularly to prevent osteoporosis.
Ministry of the Interior data show that people aged 65 and older made up 13.6 percent of the total population as of August and that the country is transitioning from an aged population toward a super-aged population, more than 20 percent of which is 65 or older, the association said.
As osteoporosis is most common in people older than 50 and the elderly population is growing rapidly, the association on Oct. 15 marked its 20th anniversary with an international conference in Taipei to discuss osteoporosis prevention and improvements to treatment.
National Health Insurance Administration Director-General Lee Po-chang (李伯璋) was invited to give a speech about osteoporosis care under the National Health Insurance (NHI) and Long-term Care Services Program 2.0.
Lee said NHI expenditure on orthopedic treatment has increased by 42 percent in the past 10 years and more than 1.39 million elderly people have sought orthopedic treatment, showing that enhancing osteoporosis prevention and treatment are important and urgent.
Taiwanese Osteoporosis Association chairman Wu Chih-hsing (吳至行), a physician at National Cheng Kung University Hospital, said the incidence rate of hip fracture in Taiwan is the ninth highest in the world and the highest in Asia, and NHI statistics showed that about 20 percent of hospitalizations for bone fractures last year were due to osteoporotic hip fracture.
The yearly mortality rate of osteoporotic hip fracture is about 20 percent, he said, adding that nearly 80 percent of patients will need medical equipment, caretakers or other assistance after they develop osteoporotic hip fractures, so the direct and indirect cost of osteoporosis is enormous: an estimated NT$7 billion (US$231 million) per year.
Wu said three obstacles to osteoporosis prevention are lack of awareness — as about 80 percent of patients first discover their bone density problems after experiencing symptoms; discontinuation of treatment — as about half of all patients discontinue treatment after three months and about 70 percent sustain bone fractures again; and lack of a comprehensive long-term care system to follow up on patients.
He advised people to ensure that they have sufficient intake of calcium, Vitamin D, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc, get sufficient sun exposure and exercise regularly to prevent osteoporosis.
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