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Program to Help Curb Osteoporosis

Increase in life expectancy, changes in nutrition patterns, vitamin D and calcium deficiency as well as lack of physical exercise are among the causes of osteoporosis
The total number of years lost to the disease (YLD) was 36,027 years, of which 18,757 pertained to men and 17,270 to women.The total number of years lost to the disease (YLD) was 36,027 years, of which 18,757 pertained to men and 17,270 to women.

A program for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis conceived by the Health Ministry will be piloted in the upcoming fiscal year that starts in March.

Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D. It is the most common reason for broken bones among the elderly.

“The plan is to be incorporated in the medical system” nationwide, said Mahboubeh Dini, head of the ministry’s osteoporosis department.

Prevalence of the condition reduces the quality of elderly life and imposes heavy costs on the society. Therefore, the ministry has placed it on its agenda in anticipation of an increase in the condition among the growing elderly population which has now reached 6.4 million (from the total 80.4 million) due to higher life expectancy.

Before 2000, there was no classified data about the disease in Iran, but after funds were made available and support from the relevant authorities, surveys were conducted by the Endocrine and Metabolism Research Center of Tehran University of Medical Sciences to calculate the disease burden and determine its prevalence.  

“The results of the survey revealed that the total number of years lost to the disease (YLD) was 36,027 years, of which 18,757 pertained to men and 17,270 to women,”  said Dini.

Another research project in Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz, Tabriz, Arak and Sanandaj showed significant low levels of vitamin D among all age groups and genders and an increase in the prevalence of osteoporosis.

There are both medicinal and non-medicinal methods to preserve bone density and prevent pathologic fractures. Non-medicinal methods include diet therapy, exercise, quitting smoking and leading a healthy lifestyle.

  Raising Awareness

“For this purpose, we need programs to raise public awareness as well as promote the importance of preventive measures among the medical staff and authorities,” Dini was quoted as saying by salamatnews.com.

Fostering close cooperation with research centers and supporting studies on the disease, improving data systems, allocating funds, raising awareness through television and billboards, obliging insurance companies to cover clinical treatment and raising public participation and cooperation with NGOs are among the ministry’s other measures in curbing osteoporosis.

The increase in life expectancy, changes in nutrition patterns, vitamin D and calcium deficiency as well as lack of physical exercise are among the causes of osteoporosis, which is expected to become a major challenge in Asia by 2050 when around 530 million people will be over 65 years old.

Based on estimations by the World Health Organization around 50% of osteoporotic fractures will occur in Asia by 2050.

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