Part 3

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. This leads to increased bone fragility and risk of fracture (broken bones), particularly of the hip, spine, wrist and shoulder.   A fragility fracture is a fracture resulting from a fall from a standing height and may be an indication of osteoporosis.  Most fractures in women past the age of 50 are fragility fractures. And yet, fewer than 20% of individuals with fragility fractures receive anti-osteoporosis treatment post fracture.  That is a gap in treatment as clearly a fracture is an event that is part of the diagnosis of osteoporosis, much like a heart attack being an event that helps diagnosis heart disease.   

Fortunately anti-osteoporosis treatments are used to both prevent and treat osteoporosis. Fortunately there are now a variety of medicines available today that can slow the rate of bone loss or increase bone thickness. Even small amounts of new bone growth can reduce your risk of broken bones.

If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, you may be prescribed an anti-resorptive drug.  There are a few medications in this category, either taken orally, by 6 month injection or once a year intravenously.  There are other medications on the market, but this is our common first choice.

These drugs can reduce bone loss and fracture risk and may actually help build some bone density. You and your physician need to review the drug treatment options, assessing the risks and benefits each offers and choose the best treatment for you, based on current scientific evidence. What is very reassuring is that physicians have excellent guidelines from Osteoporosis Canada as to what is a first choice option. We know each patient is different and the side effects or mode of administration may suit different circumstances in different patients. Some people respond better to one drug than another. Some people have side effects on one and not another.

         No matter what drug therapy you choose, remember that a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is required to maintain healthy bones. Calcium is the cornerstone of strong bones. Adults up to age 50 need 1,000 milligrams per day. Beginning at age 51, women need 1,200 milligrams every day, and when men hit 71, they need to hit that mark, too. The pop star of calcium sources is undoubtedly milk. A single 8-ounce cup of milk, whether skim, low fat, or whole, has 300 milligrams of calcium.

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Remember, healthy aging is all about how to take care of yourself today so that you can enjoy an active healthy life tomorrow and bone health is one part of the equation.




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