What you should know about osteoporosis

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of the bone structure leading to increased fracture risk.

  • Almost 2 million Canadians are living with osteoporosis.
  • 1 in 4 women and at least 1 in 8 men over 50 have osteoporosis.
  • There is an excess of 20% mortality within the year following a hip fracture.

The good news is that osteoporosis is preventable. Read more to learn what you should know to prevent fractures due to osteoporosis.

What factors increase the risk of developing osteoporosis?

Non modifiable risk factors:

  • History of fracture
  • History of fracture in a first degree relative
  • Female sex
  • Advanced age
  • Caucasian

Modifiable risk factors:

  • Tobacco use
  • Low body weight <58kg
  • Estrogen deficiency (early menopause)
  • Low calcium intake (<400mg/day)
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Alcoholism
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Certain medications (eg: oral corticosteroids)

Is there anything I can do to lower my risk?

To reduce the risk of fractures focus on removing the modifiable risk factors.

Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake in conjunction with weight bearing exercise (eg: walking) early in life can increase peak bone mass which has been shown to improve bone density later in life. Milk and milk products are excellent sources of calcium and some are fortified with vitamin D. Other foods that contain calcium are beans, lentils, broccoli, and fortified orange juice. If you are not eating enough of these foods, then you may benefit from Calcium and vitamin D supplementation. Speak to your pharmacist if supplementing calcium or Vitamin D intake is right for you.

Can osteoporosis be cured?

No, so it is very important that you take appropriate steps to prevent this disease. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, then your doctor can prescribe medication that helps to prevent more bone loss and increase bone density.

How do I know if I have osteoporosis?

There are no symptoms until a fracture occurs. That is why it is called a silent disease.

Who should be screened for osteoporosis?

Because there are no warning signs of osteoporosis, people at high risk (over 65, and those over 50 with additional risk factors) should see their physician and have their bone mineral density (BMD) tested. Patients over 30 years old with risk factors for osteoporosis may benefit from BMD testing. This is because bone density starts decreasing after 30 years of age.

How can I have my bones checked?

There are two types of tests that are used to determine bone density.

1. DEXA (x-ray, requires order by physician)

2. CUBA Clinical (ultrasound, can be done in our pharmacy!)

Ask your pharmacist for more information on osteoporosis today!

For more information visit www.osteoporosis.ca as well as:

Osteoporosis Defined: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

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