Bone Up on Menace of Osteoporosis - The New Indian Express

Bone Up on Menace of Osteoporosis

Published: 05th January 2014 12:00 AM

Last Updated: 04th January 2014 01:03 PM

Osteoporosis has been recognised as the third most common disease prevalent in India by WHO (World Health Organization). One in three women and one in five men above 50 years of age around the world carry the chances of being affected by osteoporosis. It weakens bones and causes fractures which can result in severe disability.  It is the third most common disease after hypertension and diabetes in the elderly population.

Nuclear medicine consultant Dr Mythri Shankar who is founder, Osteoporosis Foundation India says, “Osteoporosis can be easily detected using a DEXA bone scan which checks the density/strength of the bone. In an attempt to improve bone health, and create public awareness about this silent disease, Sagar Apollo Hospital, Bangalore, has recently introduced this novel technology and is making it available to patients at risk at a reduced cost.”

Osteoporotic fractures lower a patient’s quality of life. The estimated national direct expenditures (hospitals and nursing homes) for osteoporotic hip fractures are very high, and the cost is rising.

People may not know that they have osteoporosis until their bones become so weak that a sudden strain, bump or fall causes a fracture or a vertebra to collapse. Collapsed vertebrae may initially be felt or seen in the form of severe back pain, loss of height, or spinal deformities such as kyphosis or stooped posture.

Risk Factors: Certain people are more likely to develop osteoporosis than others. Factors that increase the likelihood of developing osteoporosis and fractures are called “risk factors”. These risk factors include:

● Personal history of fracture after the age of 50

● Low bone mass

● Being female

● Being thin and/or having a small frame

● Advanced age

● A family history of osteoporosis

● Estrogen deficiency as a result of menopause, especially early or surgically induced

● Abnormal absence of menstrual periods (amenorrhea)

● Anorexia nervosa

● Low lifetime calcium intake

● Vitamin D deficiency

● Use of certain medications (corticosteroids, chemotherapy, anticonvulsants and others)

● Presence of certain chronic medical conditions

● Low testosterone levels in men

● An inactive lifestyle

● Smoking and alcohol

A Bone Mineral Density exam or DEXA scan is considered the gold standard in diagnosing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly until a bone breaks. These broken bones occur typically in the hip, spine and wrist. Hip and spine fractures can be very severe and debilitating.

Millions of normal appearing patients are at risk. While women are four times more likely than men to develop the disease, men also suffer from osteoporosis. For these reasons, accurate osteoporosis screening is crucial for fighting this disease.

DEXA scan’s are an important tool for early diagnosis of osteoporosis and in many cases recognise the disease before the symptoms occur.

Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, the following medications are approved  for postmenopausal women. It includes Bisphosphonates and Estrogen/Hormone Therapy.

Answer a few questions and take care of your bones

1. Age over 55 yrs (men and women)

2. Post menopausal women (not on estrogen)

3. If age under 55

4. Smoking

5. Alcohol intake

6. Family history of fractures

7. Diabetes and/or other diseases of the liver, kidney, thyroid

8. Medications like Dilantin (for seizures), Steroids (for asthma, arthritis etc.), Diuretics

9. Lost height more than one inch

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it does not mean that you have osteoporosis, but you may be at risk.

It is recommended that you check with your doctor, who will advise whether further tests are necessary.

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