McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Mac researcher leads development of new osteoporosis guidelines

Published: October 12, 2010
Alexandra Papaioannou
Alexandra Papaioannou, professor of geriatric medicine in the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine

Osteoporosis specialist Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou is lead author of newly published Osteoporosis Canada guidelines which are expected to change the way patients with this brittle bone disease are diagnosed and treated.

Published in the latest issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), the guidelines represent a major shift in approach to target patients at highest risk, said Papaioannou, professor of geriatric medicine in McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

The new guidelines shift the focus from treating low bone mineral density (BMD) to better identifying fractures caused by weakened bones (fragility fractures). BMD remains an important risk factor for fracture — but the combination of a fracture and low BMD — is much higher for new fractures.

"Fragility fractures, the consequence of osteoporosis, are responsible for excess mortality, morbidity, chronic pain, institutionalization and economic costs," said Papaioannou in the CMAJ report. "They represent 80 per cent of all fractures in menopausal women over age 50, and those with hip or vertebral fractures have substantially increased risk of death post-fracture."

The new guidelines state that the best way to prevent fractures, and their recurrence, is with exercise. They also emphasize the importance of vitamin D and calcium while playing down the need for BMD testing.

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