(BPT) - Most people have heard of osteoporosis, but many people don't put much thought into their own bone health. However, in the United States, 54 million people age 50 and over either have or are at risk of developing osteoporosis, a silent systemic disease characterized by low bone mass, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.[i]
Approximately half of women and up to one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone in her or his remaining lifetime due to osteoporosis, according to The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.[ii] In fact, a woman’s hip fracture risk is equivalent to her risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer combined.[iii] These injuries can be crippling and even life-threatening for older Americans.
While lifestyle habits such as exercise and healthy eating can help strengthen bones and prevent bone loss, many people are still at risk for osteoporosis due to medications and family history, and a bone density test is the only test that can detect osteoporosis before a broken bone occurs.[iv]
A simple and easy test known as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) has long been the gold standard for diagnostic testing. Bone density screening technology like the Horizon® DXA system by Hologic, Inc. is available and utilized all over the country, supporting health care providers in the detection of osteoporosis.
A DXA scan requires little preparation and is fast and painless. The noninvasive procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes as you lay comfortably on a scanner that examines your body with low-dose X-ray to gather images and data from your spine, femur and other bones.[v],[vi]
Who should get screened? The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that you have a bone density test if:
- you are a woman age 65 or older
- you are a man age 70 or older
- you break a bone after age 50
- you are a woman of menopausal age with risk factors
- you are a postmenopausal woman under age 65 with risk factors
- you are a man age 50-69 with risk factors
A bone density test may also be necessary if you have any of the following:
- an X-ray of your spine showing a break or bone loss in your spine
- back pain with a possible break in your spine
- height loss of 1/2 inch or more within one year
- total height loss of 1 1/2 inches from your original height
Preventative screenings like a DXA scan to determine your bone density are critical even during the pandemic. However, there's an emerging and concerning trend of screenings being delayed due to the pandemic, which can put your health and the health of loved ones at risk. A National Osteoporosis Foundation survey of health care providers found that about one in three postponed a DXA scan for a patient due to the pandemic.[vii]
Health care facilities across the country are following strict safety guidelines to ensure the health and wellbeing of patients, as well as staff. However, if you have questions about specific measures health care organizations are taking, contact your health care provider to inquire so you can feel confident in your care. Delaying this important screening may put you at increased risk of accident, injury and in worst-case scenarios, death. If it’s time for you to get screened, don’t delay and make an appointment today.
Where can you get screened? To find out where you can get a DXA scan in your area and to learn more about the importance of osteoporosis screening, visit FindMyDXA.com and enter your ZIP code.
What else can you do to stay healthy? There are a number of different things you can do to support bone health at any age:
Eat plenty of calcium: Drinking milk isn't the only way to get calcium. Other dairy products like cheese and yogurt are good sources, as well as foods like kale, broccoli, almonds, chia seeds, sardines and tofu. If it's difficult to get enough calcium through diet, talk to your doctor about supplementation.
Get your daily dose of vitamin D: For your body to absorb calcium you also need adequate vitamin D. Foods like mushrooms, eggs and fortified milk are good sources. Additionally, sunlight supports vitamin D production, so slather on some sunscreen and catch a few rays every day if possible.
Exercise regularly: Moving your body does more than just strengthen your muscles. When you incorporate weight-bearing exercise, you strengthen your bones too. This includes activities like walking, jogging, dancing or tennis. Even going up and down stairs can help.
Broken bones can have life-changing effects and consequences for older Americans. Fortunately, osteoporosis is preventable and treatable.[viii] Follow the steps above to strengthen your bones and keep up with preventative screening by visiting FindMyDXA.com and talking with your physician about your risk factors and scheduling a bone mineral density test. These important precautions can go a long way towards ensuring your overall health and wellbeing for years to come.
[i] National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. Osteoporosis Overview. https://www.bones.nih.gov/sites/bones/files/pdfs/osteopoverview-508.pdf. Published 2018. Accessed 14-August-2019.
[ii] Wright NC, et al. JBMR doi:10.1002/jbmr2269 | Lindsay et al. Osteoporosis Int. 2005;16:78-85. Wright et al. J Bone Miner Res. 2014;29(11):2520-6. Burge et al. J Bone Miner Res. 2007;22(3):465-75.
[iii] National Osteoporosis Foundation. https://www.nof.org/prevention/general-facts/bone-basics/are-you-at-risk/ Accessed 18-March-2021.
[iv] National Osteoporosis Foundation. https://www.nof.org/patients/diagnosis-information/bone-density-examtesting/ Accessed 18-March-2021.
[vi] National Osteoporosis Foundation. https://www.nof.org/patients/diagnosis-information/bone-density-examtesting/ Accessed 13-April-2021.
[vii] Fuggle, N.R., Singer, A., Gill, C. et al. How has COVID-19 affected the treatment of osteoporosis? An IOF-NOF-ESCEO global survey. Osteoporos Int (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-020-05793-3.
[viii] Benjamin RM. Bone health: preventing osteoporosis. Public Health Rep. 2010;125(3):368-370. doi:10.1177/003335491012500302.
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