The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report in 2015 that states 25 percent of all American women aged 65 years or older suffer from osteoporosis. They found that in men over 65 years, it is closer to 6 percent. Since anyone with osteoporosis is more at risk for dangerous fractures, it is important for seniors to be aware of whether they suffer from the condition.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, “Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Healthy bones look like a honeycomb when viewed under a microscope, but for those with osteoporosis, the holes and spaces in the honeycombs are much larger and the abnormal porous bone is compressible or sponge-like. As the bones lose density or mass and are made up of more abnormal tissue structure, the bones become less dense, weaken and more likely to break.
Healthy, strong bone is composed of protein, collagen and calcium. Osteopenia is the term used when a person’s bones are slightly less dense than normal bones but are not considered as severely compromised as those with osteoporosis.
Thankfully it is easy to evaluate a person’s risk of fracture with a painless X-ray absorptiometry test (also called DXA or DEXA). The noninvasive test measures the bone mineral density (BMD) of the spine, hip or total body bone density and only takes about 10 to 20 minutes.
Health care professionals recommend a bone mineral density test for all postmenopausal women with risk factors and all women 65 or older. Men should be tested at age 70 or at age 50-69 based on risk factors. The test lets you and your doctor know if you have normal bone density, low bone density (osteopenia) or osteoporosis, and if there appears to be a problem, what steps to take to help prevent broken bones in the future. If you are taking osteoporosis medications, professionals advise having a bone density test by central DXA annually or once every two years to determine if your medication is working.
This post is intended for informational purposes only; please consult your health care provider regarding any medical concerns.
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