What exactly is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis defined as the deterioration of bone tissue, causing a much lower density of the bone. This weakens the structure of the bones, making them susceptible to fractures especially of the hip, back, wrist and shoulder. According to the Osteoporosis Foundations in the US, as many as 1 in 2 women over the age of 50 will suffer from a broken bone as a result of osteoporosis, and 1 in 4 men. Although fractures may not be life threatening, they have huge impact on the quality of life. In many cases, elderly patients who suffer from a hip fracture can lose their independence, mobility, and suffer from chronic pain.
Who should be screened for Osteoporosis?
Screening for osteoporosis is recommended for healthy women over the age of 65. Men are recommended to be screened after the age of 70 by the National Osteoporosis Foundation. If women or men have other risk factors, for example if they smoke, then screening could be beneficial already from the age of 50. It’s important to understand however, that the evidence suggests that benefits are mostly indirect, and screening may not be cost-effective for many countries.
What are the risk factors?
The main risk factor is age, so try not to get old. It’s important to point out that writing that joke just aged me by about 5 years. In all seriousness, other risk factors include family history, heavy drinking or smoking, and a low body mass index (really skinny people). There are certain medication that if you have taken for extended periods of time can increase the chances of osteoporosis, steroids being number one on that list, but there are others so if you are on medication it would be important to consult your physician. Other diseases could increase your risk as well, specifically inflammatory conditions, hormonal conditions, or problems of malabsorption.
What can we do about it?
There are a number of treatments available for osteoporosis, some of them including lifestyle changes and others including medication or vitamins. Physical activity is strongly recommended, however doing things in a way that will not be harmful to your bones. I will try to write about that in a different post later on. Vitamin D is often recommended as well. There are a number of medications that are approved by the FDA, some hormonal. It’s important to understand the severity of the situation, and other factors which can influence your treatment strategy, and this is important to consult with a physician about.
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Knowledge is power. It’s very important for each of us to understand what our options are, and what evidence supports each option. Preventing diseases before they start is often the most efficient way to be healthy, and this starts by screening for the diseases that are appropriate for us depending on age, gender, and other factors. Download our app to go through a short list of questions, and receive a personalized list of the appropriate screening recommendations for you. More information about each of these tests is provided through the app, so that you can stay informed and educated.
Here are a few studies and references which prove the efficacy of screening and early treatment for osteoporosis. Feel free to contact us for more information about the matter, we would be happy to provide it for you.
Hillier TA, Stone KL, Bauer DC, Rizzo JH, Pedula KL, Cauley JA, et al. Evaluating the value of repeat bone mineral density measurement and prediction of fractures in older women: the study of osteoporotic fractures. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:155-60. [PMID: 17242316]
Qaseem A, Snow V, Shekelle P, Hopkins R Jr, Forciea MA, Owens DK; Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee of the American College of Physicians. Screening for osteoporosis in men: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148:680-4. [PMID: 18458281]
Nelson HD, Haney E, Dana T, Chou R. Screening for Osteoporosis in Men and Women: Systematic Evidence Update for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Evidence Synthesis No. 77. AHRQ Publication No. 10-05145-EF-1. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2010.
Nelson HD, Haney EM, Dana T, Bougatsos C, Chou R. Screening for osteoporosis: an update for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153:1-14. [PMID: 20621892]