Osteoporosis is a disease in which bones become porous and fragile. It can affect anyone, but post-menopausal women are most at risk. The disease can lead to broken bones (fractures) in the hip, spine and wrist.
St. Vincent’s HealthCare offers bone density exams to detect osteoporosis.
Talk with your doctor about the benefits of a bone density exam. While several methods are available to measure bone density, the most widely used technique currently is DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry). St. Vincent's offers this quick, simple test to measure bone mass and diagnosis osteoporosis.
The DEXA scan is completely painless, and you will not have to make any special preparations except to avoid calcium supplements for 24 hours before the test.
St. Vincent's will send your test results to your doctor for follow up. Most insurance companies cover the cost, but it is always good to check with your individual carrier.
- Women are four times more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
- Caucasians and Asians are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
- Having a blood relative with osteoporosis increases your risk.
- Small-boned women have less overall bone mass to begin with and are at increased risk for developing brittle bones.
- The risk of developing osteoporosis increases with age.
- Certain hormonal disorders can result in bone loss and some medications, such as long-term use of steroids and high doses of thyroid medication, may weaken your bones.
- Smoking affects overall bone development.
Nutrition and Dietary Factors
- Good nutrition is an important part of treating and preventing osteoporosis. Inadequate calcium in the diet will also cause your body to have to "steal" calcium from the bones. Therefore, eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
Consuming Caffeine and Alcohol
- Excessive caffeine (more than 5 servings a day) or alcohol (more than 2-3 ounces daily) can negatively affect bone development.
Not Getting Enough Weight Bearing Exercise
- Exercise builds bone mass and strengthens bones. It can also minimize the effects of osteoporosis on your posture. Perform weight bearing exercise (any activity that works your bones and muscles against gravity). Under your doctor’s guidance, begin a regular exercise program.