Osteoporosis: Not Just Your Grandmother's Disease

A Silent Disease

Many of you may have this disease or be at risk but don’t  know it. Annually over 2 million people in the United States will suffer a bone fracture due to this disease. Of these 80% are women and 20% are men. This disease is osteoporosis.

Building Bones: You only have so much time…

Osteoporosis is called “thin bones” by some. The term bone density is a measure of our bone thickness. Bone density is built in our
early years. Beginning at puberty (for girls when your menstrual cycle starts) until about age 25, men and women build bone density. Somewhere between 25-30 men and women stop building bone and have reached their peak bone mass (bone density), and no more gains happen.  The peak bone mass can be maintained by healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise, adequate calcium and Vitamin D intake, and not smoking. Bone mass may be lost through poor lifestyle choices or unavoidable medical diseases or medications.

Osteoporosis Risk Factors
    •    Caucasian
    •    Current cigarette smoking
    •    Low Calcium Intake (lifelong)
    •    Vitamin D Deficiency
    •    Oral Steroid use greater than 3 months out of a year
    •    Aromatase inhibitors (breast cancer medications)
    •    Long term PPI therapy (priolosec nexium etc)
    •    Depoprovera
    •    A family history of osteoporosis  (parent breaking a hip)
    •    Alcohol > 2 Drinks per day
    •    Low body weight< 127 lbs
    •    Inactive lifestyle

Who Should Be Screened for Osteoporosis
    •    All women age 65 and older
    •    Men age 70 years or older regardless of additional osteoporosis risk factors
     •    Women under age 65 who are postmenopausal AND have one or more additional risk factors
    •    Anyone with a history of a bone fracture after age 50
    •    Anyone with a history of a fragility fracture
    •    Those who are being considered for therapy for osteoporosis
    •    Women who have been on HRT/ERT for prolonged periods of time.
    •    Oral steroid users > 3 months in a year

The screening test for osteoporosis takes about 15 minutes. Your healthcare provider can order the test.  If you do get a DEXA – the test result is a T- score.Important point: know your T-score.  The T-score helps to diagnose osteoporosis.  A T-score > -1 is normal.  AT-score between -1 and -2.5 is osteopenia and a T-score < -2.5 is osteoporosis.

How to prevent osteoporosis

Preventative measures such as adequate calcium, vitamin D, and exercise can really help slow or stop bone loss.
Try to achieve a calcium intake of 1000 to 1500 mg per day. Vitamin D is also very important. However, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and you can take too much. It is best to speak with your healthcare provider about Vitamin D dosing and have your blood level checked.  Weight bearing exercise such as walking, jogging, or elliptical trainer is extremely important for both bone density and to prevent falls that cause fractures.

The rate of osteoporosis and of fragility fractures can be decreased – prevention, proper screening and treatment lead to healthy strong bones and a stronger healthier you! For additional information visit the National Osteoporosis website at www.nof.org.

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