More Albertans will get screened and treated for osteoporosis with the launch of Catch a Break, a new program developed by the Bone and Joint Health Strategic Clinical Network in conjunction with ABJHI.
Catch a Break aims to reduce the number of hip fractures in the province. Through the program, health professionals contact Albertans who may have sustained a bone break as a result of osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to be thin and brittle. These breaks, called fragility fractures, are often the first warning sign for osteoporosis.
If osteoporosis is suspected, these individuals are mailed information about the disease, including the risk factors and how to use calcium, vitamin D and exercise to strengthen bones. Notification and information about treatments for osteoporosis are also sent to their family doctor.
The program has been launched first in the Edmonton Zone. It will expand to the Calgary Zone in the fall and province-wide by early 2015.
“Catch a Break is about making sure a patient’s first fragility fracture is their last,” said Mel Slomp, Executive Director of the BJH SCN, a unit of Alberta Health Services. “By identifying that first break and treating osteoporosis early, we will significantly reduce the chance of a second, more serious fragility fracture, like a hip fracture.”
“A key part of the program is the connection to family doctors,” says Slomp. “They receive an information package as well as details about the program, information about osteoporosis and diagnosis and treatment guidelines to prevent the disease from progressing.”
Catch a Break is operated by AHS staff through Health Link Alberta, Alberta’s 24-hour health information and advice line. Health Link staff use data from emergency departments and cast clinics across the province to identify Albertans who may have suffered a fragility fracture.
“When we contact the patients, we ask for information about how the fracture occurred,” says Lara Osterreicher, Director of Operations for Health Link Alberta. “If we suspect a fragility fracture, we invite the patient to join the Catch a Break program.”
Catch a Break Identifies 900 Albertans as High Risk for Osteoporosis in First Three Months
More than 1,500 Albertans were contacted in Catch a Break’s first three months, and nearly 900 of those individuals were identified as high risk for osteoporosis.
Every year, more than 2,400 Albertans – most of them elderly – fracture their hip. Almost all have osteoporosis and most are unaware they have it. As many as one in five people diagnosed with a fragility fracture will have another fracture within 12 months.
In Canada, fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. Statistics from Osteoporosis Canada show more than 80 per cent of all fractures in people 50 and older are caused by fragile bones, yet fewer than 20 per cent of fracture patients undergo diagnosis or adequate treatment for osteoporosis. Catch a Break aims to close this gap.
Program Impresses Wrist Fracture Patient
Edward Kohel thought his bones were strong and healthy, even after cracking his wrist following a slip on ice last winter.
But now, thanks to a new Alberta Health Services (AHS) program, the 61-year-old St. Albert man is taking steps to find out if he has osteoporosis, a disease that causes bones to be thin and brittle.
“I was really impressed the follow-up was made,” says Kohel of the phone call he received from the program following his treatment. “When it comes down to patient care, this program is great. So much thought and care went into it.”