Osteoporosis and associated fractures are common in women after midlife and will increase as the population ages. Osteoporosis-related fractures cause a significant increase in morbidity and mortality. Osteoporosis decreases the quality of life and productivity of many older women, with an increasing burden on health-care resources. Future risk of fracture can be managed by evidence-based interventions. It is thus appropriate to estimate the future risk of fracture in all women at the age of 50 years or at menopause, whichever occurs first. This can be achieved in a non-invasive fashion by targeted clinical history-taking. The future risk of fracture can be quantified using computerized models that integrate all risk factors, with or without dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Individuals found to be at increased risk of fracture need also to be assessed by DXA and, in the absence of lateral vertebral assessment, also by conventional X-ray imaging. All women should be screened by DXA at the age of 65 years, if not done before that time. At the age of 50, all women should be informed about a bone-friendly lifestyle.
Keywords: Osteoporosis; bone mineral density; dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; osteoporosis-related fractures; quantitative ultrasound; screening.