Buddy Check 7: The importance of bone density scans as you age

Buddy Check 7
Published: Jun. 8, 2022 at 9:20 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Our bones are strongest at about age 30, but once you reach 65, your chances of getting osteoporosis are much greater. Osteoporosis causes bones to weaken and become brittle. According to Marshfield Clinic, the bone disease affects nearly 44 million Americans. It’s more common in women than men. In fact, it affects about 25% of women, post-menopause, compared to 5% of men over the age of 65.

Doctors say genetics can play a role, but other factors like lifestyle choices -- smoking and heavy drinking for example -- can also cause bones to become weak over time.

“The more common fractures, fragility fractures, are at the spine, at the wrist, at the hips. That’s why those are the three that are mainly studied,” explained Dr. Allyson Mayeux, the director of the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Center at Marshfield Clinic. Dr. Mayeux said you should be getting a bone density scan once you turn 65, unless you have a family history or have other risk factors for it. Then you should get one sooner.

Unfortunately, osteoporosis cannot be reversed, but there are treatments to stop the further loss of bone density.

“Sometimes patients with more severe osteoporosis can be treated with medications that boost the bone-builder cells,” Dr. Mayeux explained. “The newest kid on the block is romosozumab, and that’s given as two shots once a month for 12 months.” She added that hospital visits for bone fractures and hip replacements are expensive, so anything you can do to prevent loss of bone density is encouraged-- like working on core strength to improve balance. Also, make sure you’re getting plenty of calcium and protein in your diet.

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