Osteoporosis and Menopause
Who Gets Osteoporosis?
Important risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Age. After maximum bone density and strength is reached (generally around age 30), bone mass begins to naturally decline with age.
- Gender. Women over the age of 50 have the greatest risk of developing osteoporosis. In fact, women are four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis. Women's lighter, thinner bones and longer life spans account for some of the reasons why they are at a higher risk for osteoporosis.
- Ethnicity. Research has shown that Caucasian and Asian women are more likely to develop osteoporosis. Additionally, hip fractures are twice as likely to occur in Caucasian women as in African-American women. However, women of color who fracture their hips have a higher mortality.
- Bone structure and body weight. Petite and thin women have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis in part because they have less bone to lose than women with more body weight and larger frames. Similarly, small-boned, thin men are at greater risk than men with larger frames and more body weight.
- Family history. Heredity is one of the most important risk factors for osteoporosis. If your parents or grandparents have had any signs of osteoporosis, such as a fractured hip after a minor fall, you may be at greater risk of developing the disease.
- Prior history of fracture/bone breakage.
- Certain medications. The use of some medications, such as the long term use of steroids (like prednisone) can also increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
How Do I Know if I Have Osteoporosis?
A painless and accurate test can provide information about bone health and osteoporosis before problems begin. Bone mineral density (BMD) tests, or bone measurements, are X-rays that use very small amounts of radiation to determine bone strength.
A bone mineral density test is indicated for:
- Women age 65 and older.
- Women with numerous risk factors.
- Menopausal women who have had fractures.
How Is Osteoporosis Treated?
Treatments for established osteoporosis (meaning, you already have osteoporosis) include:
- Hormone therapy.
- Medications such as Actonel, Evista, Fosamax, Reclast, and Boniva
- Calcium and vitamin D supplements.
- Weight-bearing exercises (which make your muscles work against gravity).
- Injectable Forteo or PTH to rebuild bone.
- Injectable Prolia for women at high risk of fracture when other drugs don't work.