Mind & Body
How Strong are your Bones?
5/1/2019 1:00:00 PM

Osteoporosis


May is Osteoporosis Awareness Month


The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new bone density screening guidelines several years ago, but many women – and their doctors – are still not aware of the recommendation that some women as young as 50 should be checked for osteoporosis. Previous guidelines recommended bone density screenings for women ages 60-64 in high risk groups and all women older than 65.


"The newest guidelines dropped the recommendation screening age for high-risk women by 10 years, which is fairly significant,” said Staci Boudreaux, PA-C, CCD, coordinator of Bone Health Central at Center for Orthopaedics, an affiliate of Imperial Health. "The hope is that earlier detection could allow health professionals to prevent future fractures caused by this condition, which is viewed as a silent disease. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 50% of repeat fractures could be avoided with treatment of osteoporosis. Women typically aren’t aware they have osteoporosis until they experience a fracture. Bone density screenings can help detect bone thinning in its early stages, which means preventative measures can be taken. These screenings are effective, safe, non-invasive and painless.”


The lower screening age for high-risk patients takes into account that women as young as 50 may meet the threshold depending on their risk factors. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, factors that can increase a woman’s risk include low body weight, use of certain drugs, smoking, heavy alcohol use, and a parent who has broken a hip. The odds of a woman in this risk group of experiencing a fracture within 10 years was concerning enough for the screening recommendation to be expanded, according to the task force.


Osteoporosis is a major public health threat, affecting an estimated 54 million Americans – about 55 percent of people age 50 and older, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. The foundation reports that 10 million Americans already have the disease, and an estimated 34 million have low bone density. The disease is responsible for two million broken bones per year, yet nearly 84% of Americans with those broken bones are not tested or treated.


Boudreaux suggests having the screening at least once every two years, although this could depend on your practitioner’s personal recommendation.


The task force made no recommendation for men; however, the National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends bone density screenings for men older than 70.


"Women are more adversely and widely affected by osteoporosis because their bone density tends to be lower than men’s, so the guidelines are more lenient for males,” Boudreaux said. "That said, physicians should pay attention to bone density in all their senior patients to prevent bone density conditions from developing into a problem.”


For more information about osteoporosis screenings, call Bone Health Central at Center for Orthopaedics, (337) 721-7270, or visit www.centerforortho.com.


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