While many people understand that osteoporosis causes bones to weaken, they may not realize the possible repercussions.
For example, 24 percent of hip-fracture patients age 50 and older die in the year following the break. This is one of several statistics that Jeanne Habash, St. Rose Health Center physician assistant, wants to share during May, which is National Osteoporosis Month.
“Hip fractures in older people can cause a number of complications,” Habash said. “Bed rest after surgery can lead to a higher risk for pneumonia and loss of muscle mass that causes generalized weakness.
“This then results in your inability to care for yourself,” she continued. “Therefore, the risk increases for further injuries from falling.”
Some of the main risk factors for developing osteoporosis include cigarette smoking; low body weight; long-term use of corticosteroid medications; rheumatoid arthritis; and excessive alcohol consumption.
“Diabetes and early menopause also are strongly associated with osteoporosis,” Habash noted. “Men who have risk factors should be just as concerned about developing the disease as women.”
In addition to decreasing the number of risks, it also is important to exercise and/or walk frequently.
“This helps you maintain strong muscles and maybe prevent falls,” Habash explained. “You can also consume food high in calcium such as milk, yogurt, and green, leafy vegetables.
“In addition,” she elaborated, “foods high in Vitamin D such as fish from the sea are helpful. People also should consult their health-care providers about taking calcium and Vitamin D supplements.”
Habash strongly encourages people with concerns about osteoporosis to talk to their health-care provider, who may suggest a bone-density test.
“This test is quick, painless and non-invasive,” the physician assistant said. “It provides a precise measure of bone density with minimal exposure to radiation. This exam is especially important if risk factors are involved.”
Possible treatment options for osteoporosis include dietary supplements; oral medications that slow the breakdown of bone; and estrogen medications for women.
“Some newer drugs are injected twice a year,” Habash said. “But one of the drawbacks is the high cost.”
Statistics from the National Osteoporosis Foundation include:
One in two women and up to one in four men over 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.A woman’s risk of 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.Of the nearly 300,000 hip-fracture patients every year, one fourth end up in long-term-care facilities and half never regain previous function.
St. Rose Health Center specializes in primary care, prevention and wellness. Services include St. Rose Family Medicine, Convenient Care Walk-in Clinic, Great Bend Internists, Imaging, Cardiac Rehab, Physical Therapy, Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice and a comprehensive Specialty Clinic. St. Rose is co-owned by Hays Medical Center and Centura Health.