Osteoporosis Medical Screening

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (2009), osteoporosis affects approximately 75 million people in the United States, Europe and Japan. Each year, one in three women—and one in five men—will experience a bone fracture as a result of osteoporosis (2009). But, what is osteoporosis?

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the structural deterioration of bone tissue and a reduction in bone mass. When an individual has osteoporosis, his bones get more fragile, increasing the risk of fractures, especially to the hip, spine and wrist. Although osteoporosis is often considered an older woman’s disease, it can strike at any age, and it affects both men and women.

Scientists haven’t yet identified an exact cause of osteoporosis. However, eating a healthy diet, rich in calcium and essential nutrients, and getting enough exercise can help develop bone strength.

Why is Osteoporosis Medical Screening Important?

Osteoporosis is a leading cause of bone fractures, particularly in the elderly. Bone fractures can be painful, expensive and difficult to treat. If you’re at risk, medical screening for osteoporosis can let you know when preventative measures are necessary.

According to a study conducted at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia (2009) (and reported by Spine-Health.com), older patients who suffer bone fractures as a result of osteoporosis are at an increased risk of death within the decade following the fracture (2009).

Is Osteoporosis Health Screening Right for Me?

You can’t feel your bones thinning, which is why medical screening for osteoporosis is recommended, especially for women who are at high risk for the disease.

Bone density health screening is recommended for women 65 and over and men 70 and over, as well as those who have the following risk factors:

  • Early menopause
  • Excessive alcohol or caffeine use
  • Family history of osteoporosis
  • History of bone fractures
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Thyroid issues
  • Vitamin D deficiency.

Additionally, some medications, such as steroid use, affect bone health.

How Does Osteoporosis Medical Screening Work?

Just as high cholesterol or high blood pressure can predict the risk of heart disease or stroke, low bone density can predict a patient’s future risk of fracture. Two common health screening tests for low bone density are:

  • Central DXA, or dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, is the “gold standard” in osteoporosis medical screening. This simple and accurate test—which uses less radiation than a standard chest X-ray—measures the density of bones in your spine, hip and wrist.
  • Ultrasound health screening tests for osteoporosis by measuring the bone density of your heel. Your heel’s bone density closely matches that of your hipbone, so measuring it can help identify bone loss risk.

After Osteoporosis Medical Screening: The Calcium/Osteoporosis Connection

If medical screening reveals signs of osteoporosis, you and your healthcare provider may consider hormone therapy, medication or physical therapy. If health screening shows that you’re at risk of developing osteoporosis, medication and lifestyle and diet changes can be helpful.

Resources

International Osteoporosis Foundation. (2009). Facts and statistics about osteoporosis and its impact.Retrieved October 29, 2010, from http://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-and-statistics.html

Kennel, K. (2010). Osteoporosis treatment puts brakes on bone loss. Retrieved October 29, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteoporosis-treatment/WO00127

Marten, S. (2009). Osteoporosis fractures increase risk of death, study shows. Retrieved October 29, 2010, from http://www.spine-health.com/blog/osteoporosis/osteoporosis-fractures-increase-risk-death-study-shows

Mayo Clinic. (2010). Osteoporosis.Retrieved October 29, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteoporosis/DS00128