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More than 300 million worldwide at high risk of fracture by 2040

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The number of people at high risk of fracture is on the increase, and is predicted to double in the next few decades.

Researchers at the University of Southampton and Sheffield Medical School say that around 319 million people around the world will be at high risk of suffering osteoporotic fracture by 2040 — double the number considered at high risk today.

In a study published in the journal Osteoporosis International, the researchers estimated that 158 million men and women aged 50 or over were at high risk of osteoporotic fracture in 2010. Globally, 18.2% of women and 3.1% of men had a fracture probability above the high-risk threshold.

Projecting figures for 2040, they estimated that the number of individuals at high risk of fracture will rise to approximately 319 million. Increases will be seen in all regions, but particularly in Africa and Latin America.

Worldwide, Asia will have the highest proportion of the global burden in 2040, with 73 million women and 11 million men at high risk.

The calculations were based on data derived from FRAX, a tool developed by the World Health Organisation to evaluate patients´ fracture risk.

Commenting on the findings of the study, co-author Professor John Kanis, president of the International Osteoporosis Foundation, said: “Due to demographic changes, we will see an enormous increase in the aged population worldwide. This new data suggests that individuals with a high probability of osteoporotic fractures will comprise a very significant disease burden to society in the coming decades.

“Healthcare systems, particularly in Asia, should prepare for a two-fold increase in the number of fracture patients, and with it increased long-term disability and dependency in the older population.”