Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease.
Unfortunately, many people susceptible to the disease don’t take steps to fight against it, according to area health care professionals.
“My message to most of my patients is this: For women 50 and older, 40 and 50 percent of those women will sustain a fracture by 75,” said Dr. Thomas Olenginski, a rheumatologist with Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. “Many people doing all the right things still are susceptible to osteoporosis.”
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become fragile and are more likely to fracture.
It occurs when bone loses density, which measures the amount of calcium and minerals in the bone.
Existing bone constantly is being replaced by new bone. However, the body fails to form enough new bone when too much existing bone is reabsorbed by the body.
Many women begin losing calcium after the age of 25, noted said Dr. Farag Salama, a Susquehanna Health obstetrician/gynecologist.
Calcium is one of the vital minerals needed to form bone,
In other words, osteoporosis should not be a concern of just middle-aged and older women.
“You should take care of bones before menopause,” he said.
Exercise plays a key role in preventing osteoporosis while unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking can put a person at risk for the disease, he noted.
Calcium intake helps build and maintain healthy bones, and Vitamin D helps bodies absorb calcium.
A healthy diet can help a person receive those and other nutrients. Salama said calcium can be found in dairy products and dark green vegetables such as broccoli.
“Osteoporosis affects about 9 percent of women,” Salama said. “About 10 million of women in America have osteoporosis.”
Broken bones can lead to lost time on the job. Overall, the economic impact is about $19 billion a year, he noted.
Fractures can occur in the wrist, vertebra or hip.
Hip fractures, especially for elderly women, can lead to fatal consequences.
“The amount of calcium loss in women per year after menopause is about 2 percent,” he said. “If they do hormone replacement surgery, that decreases it.”
A drop in estrogen in women during menopause and decrease in testosterone in men is a leading cause of bone loss.
Family history plays a big part in determining one’s risk for osteoporosis.
“The family history factor that really matters is those with a mother or a father who had a hip fracture,” Olenginski said.
Bone mineral density testing can diagnose bone loss and osteoporosis, predict future bone fractures and consider the effectiveness of medications.
Medications used to treat osteoporosis include bisphosphonates and estrogens. They are important in helping to reduce the risk of future hip fractures.
Those with osteoporosis should take steps to limit susceptibility to falls.
Many fail to even take steps to treat osteoporosis until they’ve broken a bone.
“It’s hard to communicate risks,” Olenginski said.