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Senior Life: Osteoporosis Risks and Prevention

There are a variety of lifestyle modifications and steps that can help to prevent osteoporosis and its complications.

Prevention

  • Have your pharmacist review your medications for those associated with an increased fall risk
  • Use of stability devices including walkers, canes, or assistance when moving to help decrease fall risks
  • Wear appropriate fitting shoes with good traction
  • Assess for hearing or vision problems
  • Remove trip or fall hazards (Examples: Rugs, cords, etc.)
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom and as needed in the home

Lifestyle

  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Exercise
  • Eat a well balanced diet with fruits and vegetables
  • Obtain adequate vitamin D and calcium through your diet
    • Calcium sources: Milk, yogurt, cheese fruit, vegetables
    • Vitamin D sources: Sunlight, cereal, egg yolks, fish, orange juice
    • Supplementation with vitamins may be necessary

Recommended Daily Allowance

Calcium (mg)

Vitamin D (IU)

Women 19-49 years

1000

600-800

Women >50 years

1200

800-1000

Men 50-70 Years

1000

800-1000

Men>70 years

1200

800-1000

IU=International Units

In the United States, over 4.5 million women and 0.8 million men over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is sometimes referred to as the silent disease, because oftentimes breaking a bone is the first warning sign that you have osteoporosis. The disease itself causes compromised bone strength predisposing patients to an increased risk for fractures and further complications. Broken bones can be painful and serious, often affecting many aspects of a patient's life: physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Risks

There are many factors that may put you at risk for osteoporosis that you cannot change. This includes a personal history of a fracture as an adult, a family history of osteoporosis, advanced age, Caucasian or Asian race, female gender, or a low bone mineral density. However, there are risks that you can change to decrease your chances of osteoporosis. This includes cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, minimal exercise, or low calcium or vitamin D intake. There are also some prescription medications that can increase a person’s risk for osteoporosis, refer to your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Screening/Diagnosis

Screening and diagnosing osteoporosis occurs through a DEXA scan. This scan is often performed in women over 65 years old and in men over 70 years old, but can take place at a younger age in those with many risk factors or previous broken bones. The scan measures your T-Score to classify you into one of the following categories: normal, osteopenia (pre-osteoporosis), osteoporosis, or severe osteoporosis. Based on the classification, treatment is determined by your provider.

T-Score

Classification

At -1 and above

Normal

Between -1 and -2.4

Osteopenia

At -2.5 or less

Osteoporosis

At -2.5 or less and fracture(s)

Severe/established Osteoporosis

Overall, bone health is very important and implementing daily habits into your lifestyle can help to prevent osteoporosis and also help decrease your risk of fractures if you already have osteoporosis. As winter approaches, please remember to be careful and take extra time with the slippery conditions.

Ask your local Lewis pharmacist for assistance in finding an over-the-counter supplement that is right for you or to discuss any questions you may have about you medications.

Written by Sarah Jungers, Pharm.D. Resident

References:

Bone Health Basics: Get the Facts. National Osteoporosis Foundation. 2020 Jan. Available at: https://www.nof.org/preventing-fractures/general-facts/.

DiPiro J, Talbert R, Yee G, Matzke G, Wells B, Posey L. Osteoporosis and Osteomalacia. Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach. 2017; 92: 1457-1483.

Kling, Juliana M et al. “Osteoporosis prevention, screening, and treatment: a review.” Journal of women’s health (2002) vol. 23,7 (2014): 563-72. doi:10.1089/jwh.2013.4611 “Osteoporosis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 21 Aug. 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/dis...

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