May is National Osteoporosis Prevention and Awareness Month, a time to get educated about the disease that causes two million broken bones each year and is more prevalent in women than risk of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
The UMHS Endeavour takes a brief look at what osteoporosis is and what the general public and future doctors at American and Caribbean medical schools should know about risk factors and lifestyle changes needed to build stronger bones for patients. We will also look at why men are at risk—men are more likely to break a bone from osteoporosis than to get prostate cancer– and what people can do to improve bone health.
Facts About Osteoporosis, “The Silent Disease”
Osteoporosis is called a “silent disease” as people can’t feel bones getting weaker, but many don’t know they have it until they break a bone. Following are facts about osteoporosis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation website.
- Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone that makes a person’s bones weak and more likely to break.
- Approximately 9 million Americans have osteoporosis and another 43 million have low bone density, placing them at increased risk.
- This means that nearly 60% of adults age 50 and older are at risk of breaking a bone and should be concerned about bone health.
- One in two women and up to one in four men will break a bone in their lifetime due to osteoporosis.
- For women, the incidence is greater than that of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined.
- There is no cure for osteoporosis, but there are steps you can take to prevent, slow or stop its progress.
- Diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle are keys to preventing and managing the disease.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends the following five steps for better bone health and to help prevent osteoporosis.
1. Get the calcium and vitamin D you need every day.
2. Do regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises.
3. Don’t smoke and don’t drink too much alcohol.
4. Talk to your healthcare provider about your chance of getting osteoporosis and ask when you should have a bone density test.
5. Take an osteoporosis medication when it’s right for you.
Why Osteoporosis is So Serious
The National Osteoporosis Foundation notes the following:
- A woman’s risk of hip fracture is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
- A man is more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.
- 24 percent of hip fracture patients age 50 and over die in the year following the fracture.
- Six months after a hip fracture, only 15 percent of patients can walk across a room unaided.
- Every year, of nearly 300,000 hip fracture patients, one-quarter end up in nursing homes and half never regain previous function.
What You Can Do About Osteoporosis
The National Osteoporosis Foundation lists the following about preventing, slowing or stopping the progress of osteoporosis since there is presently no cure.
- Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help slow or stop the loss of bone mass and help prevent fractures.
- About half of osteoporosis-related repeat fractures can be prevented with appropriate treatment.
- A bone density test is the best way to diagnose osteoporosis and determine a treatment plan.
- If your T-score is 2.5 or lower, indicating that you have osteoporosis, or if you have other significant risk factors for breaking a bone, talk to your healthcare provider about starting an osteoporosis treatment plan that includes taking osteoporosis medication.
For more information, please visit http://nof.org/nationalosteoporosismonth
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