Osteoporosis is dangerous but treatable, experts say
Nearly nine million Americans have osteoporosis and another 43 million have low bone density, placing them at increased risk for a break, according to the National Osteoporosis Association (NOA). And as scores of baby boomers head toward old age, the condition is a hot topic.
The NOA says that one in two women and up to one in four men will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis. For women, the incidence is greater than that of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.
Making matters worse, osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent disease,” because you can’t always feel the changes in your bones as they weaken. Often, people find out they have it once they break a bone, says the NOA
But are brittle bones inevitable as we get older? Is there a way to prevent the deterioration?
“As people get older they tend to loose calcium from their bones which make them brittle and vulnerable to fractures,” Dr. Meis says. “The most common osteoporotic fractures involve the wrist and the hip, but any bone can be involved.”
Dr. Meis says screenings, supplements and exercise can help.
“To prevent osteoporosis both men and women should take calcium and vitamin D,” he says. “Weight bearing exercise such as walking or gentle weight lifting is also important. Women in particular should have screening bone density tests and if they have lost too much calcium from their bones there are other medications that their doctors can prescribe.”
When choosing a medicine to treat osteoporosis, the NOA advises that patients discuss the risks and benefits with your physician or health care provider.
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