Few Treated for Osteoporosis; Many at Risk
New Options Available to Prevent Broken Bones Caused by Osteoporosis
WebMD News Archive
Who's At Risk for Osteoporosis? continued...
But the good news is, doctors have a very effective tool to
screen for osteoporosis, known as a bone mineral density test. The test takes
about five to 10 minutes to complete at a doctor's office and uses low X-ray
energy scans to measure bone density.
"The test can be very predictive of who is going to break a
bone in the near future. Better, for instance, than blood pressure is
predictive of future stroke," says Weinerman.
Although guidelines vary slightly, it's generally accepted that
the following groups should be screened for osteoporosis with a bone density
- Nearly all women over age 65
- Postmenopausal women with at least one other risk factor for osteoporosis,
such as a family member with the disease, smokers, or those who drink
- Older men who have had a previous bone fracture or low testosterone
- Anyone on long-term steroid medication, which can weaken bones
What Can Be Done?
Researchers say one in five women who have a spinal fracture
will have another one in the next 12 months. And a hip fracture also
significantly increases the future risk of breaking other bones in the
Despite the fact that a previous fracture significantly raises
the risk of future fractures, researchers say only about 20% of people who
suffer fractures are being offered any medications designed to lower this
But researchers say it's these patients who stand to gain the
most from treatment.
"In older women with osteoporosis and a fracture, proper
treatment will cut risk of hip and [spinal] fracture by about 50%," says
Kenneth Lyles, MD, a professor of medicine at Duke University School of
Medicine. And that reduction in risk may be even greater for other types of
Recently approved osteoporosis treatments not only have the
ability to slow the rate of bone loss, but some can even help regain lost bone
mass. Other drugs are also under investigation that may be able to selectively
target hormone receptors in the body that strengthen bones without the side
effects of hormone therapy.
Dietary changes and supplements to increase intake of calcium
and vitamin D can also reduce the risk of fracture.