The number of people at risk for fracture worldwide could double by 2040, a new study suggests.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southampton and Sheffield Medical School in the United Kingdom and published recently in Osteoporosis International, projects that by 2040, approximately 319 million people worldwide may be at high risk for fracture.

According to a news release from the international Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), that is double the number of people considered at high risk in 2015.

To reach this prediction, the researchers used data derived from the risk-assessment algorithm FRAX and quantified the number of individuals worldwide aged 50 years or more at high risk of fracture in 2010. They then projected the figures for 2040, the release explains.

The team set a threshold of high fracture probability at the age-specific 10-year probability of a major fracture (clinical vertebral, forearm, humeral, or hip fracture) equivalent to that of a woman with a BMI of 24 kg/m2, a prior fragility fracture, and no other clinical risk factors. They used the same age-specific threshold for men.

The prevalence of high risk was determined worldwide, and by continent, and was applied to the demography for each country, the release continues.

Key findings included the following, the release explains: In 2010, at total of 158 million people (137 million women and 21 million men aged 50 years or more) had a fracture probability at or above the high-risk threshold. As well, globally, 18.2% of women and 3.1% of men had a fracture probability above the fracture threshold.

They also suggest that worldwide, the increased future fracture risk is possible for all world regions, but could be particularly marked in Africa and Latin America. Asia could have the highest proportion of the global burden, with 73 million women and 11 million men at high risk.

Professor John Kanis, IOF president and co-author of the study, states in the release that, “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.”

He adds in the release that 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.

[Source(s): International Osteoporosis Foundation, Science Daily]