Are you at risk?
While you may look and feel fine, you could be at risk for osteoporosis and not know it. Today, more than 10 million people have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, and another 34 million have low bone mass in the US. The number of cases of osteoporosis is expected to rise significantly as the population ages. Yet only a relatively small number of men and women with osteoporosis have been diagnosed or treated.
The National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment study published by Columbia University of 200,000 female patients over age 50, living in 35 different states, found:
à 40% had undiagnosed osteopenia (low bone mass).
à 7% had undiagnosed osteoporosis.
à In a follow up study after one year, it was found that the fracture rate in women with osteoporosis was four times higher than expected in normal women. In women with undiagnosed osteopenia (low bone mass) the fracture rate was two times higher than normal women.
You could be one of almost half of all women over age 50 unknowingly suffering low bone mass/osteoporosis.
Certain factors contribute to an individual's likelihood of developing the disease. These are called "risk factors". The first step in prevention is to determine whether you are at risk.
A patient's risk of osteoporotic fracture is associated with bone mineral density, bone quality and the characteristics of bone's micro-architecture. If you think you have one or more risk factors, you should consult with your physician for an Ultrasound or a DXA bone density test.
Some risk factors for low bone mass and/or osteoporosis are:
· A family history of osteoporosis
· History of fractures in your immediate relatives
· Postmenopausal women
· Thin and/or small-framed
· Advanced age
· Abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
· Estrogen deficiency as a result of menopause, especially early or surgically induced
· Low calcium intake
· Personal history of fracture(s) after age 50
· Use of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants
· An inactive lifestyle or lack of physical exercise
· Anorexia nervosa
· Low testosterone levels in men
· Cigarette smoking
· Excessive alcohol consumption
· Caucasian or Asian, although African Americans and Hispanic Americans are at significant risk
Life-altering effects of osteoporosis
Early on, bone loss may occur without symptoms or visual signs. Eventually, it can lead to broken bones or the disfiguring “dowager’s hump”. Some other conditions you may experience are:
· Back pain
· Compressed spinal columns
· Compressed internal organs
· Loss of mobility
· Decreased lung capacity
· Trouble with digestion
· Loss of feeling and sensation
What can I do now? How do I get tested?
If you think you have one or more risk factors, you should consult with your physician for an Ultrasound or a DXA bone density test.
If detected early, osteoporosis may be preventable. Through effective clinical testing, bone fracture risks can be predicted and reduced through effective clinical preventive care. The key is to get tested and then follow your healthcare providers’ instructions.