The Basics of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition more commonly seen in older patients involving a significant decrease in bone density. A milder version, known as osteopenia, involves a less severe bone density decrease; however, both conditions have the potential to cause very serious, even permanent, damage to the skeletal system.

Facts About Osteoporosis

  • Osteoporosis, called “the bone-thinning disease,” is a common condition that affects over 25 million people each year.
  • Osteoporosis or low bone mass (osteopenia) occurs in about 44 million American men and women, or 55 percent of the population age 50 and over.
  • 80 percent of people with osteoporosis are women.
  • 80 percent of women over age 55 have osteoporosis.
  • Osteoporosis is responsible for one and a half million fractures each year and costs $15 billion for fracture care. Fractures do heal with appropriate measures.
  • After menopause, women lose about one to two percent of their bone density each year.
  • Osteoporosis is a preventable disease, not an inevitable consequence of aging. The management of skeletal health should be directed toward maximizing peak bone mass and minimizing bone loss that occurs with aging and declining sex hormone levels.
  • By the age of 70, nearly half of all women show on an X-ray that they have had a fracture of their spine. Yet many cannot recall any injury or incident that would have caused the fracture.

How is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?

For those deemed at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, including elderly,

and eating disorder sufferers, a simple scan is used to conduct a bone density test. This test indicates the extent of bone loss that has occurred. The sufferer, depending on the severity of damage, will then be recalled for a further scan to assess any additional change to their bone density.

After age 30, bones slowly decrease in density. If the body cannot regulate the mineral content of bones, they become more fragile. The result is osteoporosis.

Bones affected by osteoporosis:

  • Do not have enough solid calcium and phosphorus, and steadily lose their supporting protein framework
  • Become thinner and more fragile than normal
  • Break more easily, particularly the spine, hip, and wrist

To maintain bone density, the body needs enough calcium and other minerals and must produce the proper amounts of several hormones, including estrogen in women and testosterone in men. In addition, an adequate supply of vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium from food and incorporate it into bones.  Calcium and vitamin D are necessary for normal skeletal homeostasis. Vitamin D enhances intestinal absorption of calcium and is important for mineralization of bone, as well as optimal muscle function and balance. Low concentrations of vitamin D are associated with impaired calcium absorption, a negative calcium balance,

Treatment

Boniva (ibandronate) is in the group of medicines called bisphosphonates (bis FOS fo nayts). It alters the cycle of bone formation and breakdown in the body

Ibandronate slows bone loss while increasing bone mass. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for Boniva.

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