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No Bones About It: Get Screened for Osteoporosis

Many people with osteoporosis don’t realize they have the condition until they have a bone fracture or collapsed vertebrae, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Although anyone can develop this bone-weakening disease, NIAMS research indicates that those most at risk are older women with small frames and a family history of osteoporosis. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis caused more than 2 million fractures in 2005. The best way to detect this “silent disease” before it causes injury is a simple screening.

“Bone mineral density (BMD) screenings are vitally important because bone fractures caused by osteoporosis are a serious risk to women’s health,” says Barbara Quast, R.N., director of Women’s Health and Education at Presbyterian Hospital of Allen. “Medications are available to significantly reduce the risk of fractures, so there is no reason osteoporosis should go undiagnosed or untreated.”

BMD screenings are much like an X-ray and are equally quick and painless. If your physician decides treatment is necessary based on your screening results, he or she may recommend medications, exercise, estrogen therapy or dietary changes.

Quast says women ages 50 and older should consider having these screenings annually, though your physician may recommend an earlier start if you are at a higher risk.

“We like to advise women to schedule both a yearly mammogram and BMD on the same day,” says Quast. “Both technologies are available at the Presbyterian Hospital of Allen
Breast Center.” (Summer 2008)

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