Osteoporosis affects 10 million Americans; 8 million women and 2 million men. It’s a disease in which bone loses its mineral content, there is a change in its structure and bone becomes weaker. A fall, sneeze or bumping into furniture can cause it to break.
Osteoporosis is a silent disease. You don’t know you have it until you fall and break a bone. Last year it caused two million fractures. These fractures can lead to pain, disability and even death. In fact, osteoporotic hip fractures caused more deaths than breast cancer in women and more deaths than prostate cancer in men.
Frank Bonura, MD, FACOG, NCMP, CCD, director of Osteoporosis Program at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center, a member of Catholic Health Services, shared some insight in how to identify osteoporosis, how to treat it and potentially how to minimize your chances of getting it.
How do I know if I have Osteoporosis?
“We can diagnose osteoporosis by measurement of your bone mineral density (BMD) using a DXA Scan Machine. The BMD is the amount of mineral in an area of your bone. Osteoporosis can also be diagnosed clinically, if you are 50 years or older, fall from a standing height and sustain a fracture.
You are entitled to a DXA Scan if you are a woman 65 years or older or a man 70 years or older. Younger women age 50 to 64 and men age 50 to 69 years old who are at risk for osteoporosis (family history, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, etc.) or are taking medications that cause loss of BMD are entitled to have a DXA scan.” Dr. Bonura
If I have Osteoporosis, can it be treated?
“Once the DXA results demonstrate a diagnosis of osteoporosis, your physician should order lab work to confirm if your osteoporosis is due to your age, family history, a medical condition or to a medication you are taking. We do that because all medications used for osteoporosis have serious side effects. If you have a medical condition, we might treat that before prescribing a medication for osteoporosis. If it’s due to a medication you are taking, we may adjust the dosage or change the medication.” Dr. Bonura
What is the treatment for Osteoporosis?
“Osteoporosis can be treated but it can’t be cured in all cases. Some medications used (Fosamax, Boniva, Actonel, IV Reclast, Prolia) stop the bone cells that destroy the bone. Other medications (Forteo, Tymlos) stimulate the bone cells that build bone. All of the medications have side effects but they are rare and only should be used in patients who are at high risk for fracture.” Dr. Bonura
Do I need Calcium and Vitamin D?
“Calcium is necessary for bone health; therefore, all individuals should have an adequate amount of calcium and Vitamin D in their diet. If you are 50 years or older it is recommended that you take 1200mg of calcium per day. Our diet gives us 600mg per day. To obtain the other 600mg, the best sources are dairy products. An 8 ounce glass of milk gives us 300mg of calcium, as does a yogurt or 3 ounces of cheese. You can also get calcium from foods that are fortified with calcium (cereals, soy milk, and juices) or green leafy vegetables. If you are lactose intolerant then you can take a calcium supplement. They are best taken with foods in divided doses. To absorb calcium you need adequate Vitamin D. Without Vitamin D only 10-15% of calcium is absorbed. Vitamin D can be obtained from supplements and can also be made when your skin is exposed to sunlight." Dr. Bonura
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