OSTEOPOROSIS IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DISEASE, affecting both men and women in debilitating ways. Previously considered "the post-menopausal" disease, this loss of bone density has recently been linked with men of varying ages. Osteoporosis is a major health problem affecting more than 25 million Americans and related to 1.3 million fractures a year --but today there is more knowledge about the disease than ever before.
Treatment referrals to a physician and/or nutritionist and/or physical therapist of individuals whose tests reveal decreased bone mass; Educational and outreach resources, including articles, brochures, books and video tapes on the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. Topics will include medications, hormone replacement therapy, nutrition, dietary supplements, coping techniques and exercise.
POP QUIZ: WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?
If you answered the majority of these questions with a YES, you are a good candidate for bone density testing. This non-invasive procedure is simple and painless. The individual lies perfectly still on a table while a moveable arm passes over the areas to be tested (arms, spine, hips).
The test measures bone mass, information that helps your doctor determine what steps should be taken to protect your bone health. The procedure is short, taking 2-5 minutes for individual body areas and 10-15 minutes for a total body screening. Wear comfortable clothes, preferably without metal buttons, buckles or zippers.Exposure to radiation is minimal. For example, a spine test delivers less than a tenth of the dosage of a chest X-ray.
Scheduling Screening Appointments
Osteoporosis screening and education services are available at several locations. You can call the Central Radiology Scheduling Office at (888) 909-XRAY (9729) to make an appointment at any of them.
Osteoporosis: Who Is At Risk?
The most common osteoporosis risk factor for both men and women is age. Bones continue to become more dense until about age 30, and then gradually thin out. In women, especially those who are not on estrogen replacement therapy, bone loss speeds up dramatically within the first five years or so after the onset of menopause. Since women usually have thinner bones than men, this loss puts them at increased risk of fractures as they age.
Men do not have such a sudden dramatic decline in bone mass, but their more gradual losses add up. A low level of testosterone, the male sex hormone which declines as men age, fosters bone loss. Testosterone is converted to estrogen in the body, and, as for women, is crucial to bone strength in men. Men with chronic diseases that affect the kidneys, lungs, stomach or intestines or that alter testosterone levels also have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis.
Heredity is another significant risk factor for both men and women, playing a definite role in their vulnerability to osteoporosis. Those with blood relatives who have had the disease, or experienced osteoporotic fractures, should be especially vigilant against the disease and take particular precautions with their diet and consumption of adequate levels of calcium.
But perhaps the strongest risk factors for both men and women are a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, smoking and drinking. Studies have shown that regular exercise can slow the rate of bone loss. Vigorous exercising of the legs, arms and torso against gravity can actually build new bone mass in later years.
Studies also recommend drinking four 8-ounce glasses of skim or 1 percent milk every day and consuming foods high in vitamin D, which the body needs to best absorb the calcium. Recommended are dark green leafy vegetables (especially collard greens) and canned salmon and sardines -- including the bones. "Bone" appetit!