Osteoporosis makes bones weak and more likely to break. Anyone can develop osteoporosis, but it is most common in older women. Osteoporosis is yet another silent disease that might not be discovered until you break a bone. A bone mineral density test is the best way to check the health of your bones. Eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, having a regular exercise regimen and abstaining from smoking are ways to keep bones healthy and strong.
As many as half of all women and a quarter of men older than age fifty will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors:
- Getting older – women over age 65 and men over age 70
- Being small and thin
- Family history of osteoporosis
- The use of certain medications such as corticosteroids, lupron, zoladex, high doses of thyroid medication, dilantin, depakote, methotrexate, cyclosporin and long-term use of coumadin or heparin
- Being a white or Asian woman
- Having osteopenia- also known as low bone density
Risk factors for osteoporosis in women under age 65 and men ages 50 – 70 include:
- A broken bone caused by normal activities, such as a fall from a standing height or less otherwise known as a fragility fracture.
- Chronic rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic kidney disease
- Eating disorders
- Early menopause
- History of hormone treatment for prostate or breast cancer
- Significant loss of height due to compression fractures of the spine
- Strong family history of osteoporosis
- Taking daily corticosteroid medication for greater than 3 months
- Having 3 or more alcoholic drinks per day almost every day
Bone Density Screening:
Bone mineral density testing/screening is suggested for women starting at age 65 and men starting at age 70. Women with risk factors such as a fractured bone after age 50 or a slender frame should be screened earlier.
It not only helps to diagnose bone loss and osteoporosis, but is also used to see how well an osteoporosis medication is working and to predict the risk of future fractures.
The more negative the number the higher one’s risk of a fracture.
Portable bone density scanners at health fairs or screenings can check the wrist or heel density but the more reliable evaluation would be that of the hip and spine.
- Bone healthy lifestyle choices as mentioned above, safety precautions for fall prevention – even ensuring that windy conditions do not topple one with osteoporosis is often overlooked and very important
- Medications to reduce bone loss include the following bisphosphonates:
- Fosamax and Fosamax plus vitamin D – reduces the risk of fracture by nearly 50% over 2-4 years.
- Boniva and Boniva with Calcium – reduces the risk of fracture by 35-45% over 3 years.
- Zoledronic acid – an intravenous medication used 1 time per year – reduces fractures by 40-70 %