Miss Lee, 65, has been leading a wholesome lifestyle. What she did not plan for was the slippery floor in the wet market which got her hospitalized and diagnosed with a right hip fracture.
She was sent to a rehabilitation hospital where she went through a two-week-long physiotherapy. She depended on a walker until she was discharged three months later.
Lee was indeed lucky for being able to recover and walk independently after a hip fracture. Statistics show that long-term impact on physical activity and self-care ability has been found in half of hip fracture patients. They have to rely on walkers which affect their living standard.
Some even become bedridden, resulting in other complications. In general, the death rate from having a hip fracture after a year is close to 20 percent.
A minor fall or bump does not directly cause a hip fracture, but since Lee is unknowingly an osteoporosis patient, her bones break easily. When bones lose bone material, they become less dense, and it takes less force to break them. Fractures usually take place in the spine, hip bones and carpal bones.
Women after menopause have a high chance of getting osteoporosis since their bone material loses much quicker with their falling level of the female hormone estrogen.
High-risk patients include smaller-built people, smokers, alcoholics, people who lack exercise, have unbalanced diet, have a family history of bone fracture or those on prescribed medicines such as steroids, anti-epileptic drugs or anti-breast cancer drugs.
Remember, prevention is better than cure. Women who stop having menstruation or men aged above 50 should take part in a bone density scan called dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) as soon as possible to find out if they have porous bones, and receive timely and relevant therapies or medications.
Osteoporosis is an invisible killer but there are preventive measures: quit smoking and abusive drinking, do more weight lifting exercises, get enough calcium and vitamin D and live healthy.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 22.
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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