The dangers of osteoporosis and fractures – especially of the hip – grow as a woman ages. Yet, many women, who should be screened, are not taking advantage of this simple, painless test.
“One of every 2 women will experience a fracture by age 50,” says McLeod Gynecologist Charles Tatum, MD. “Serious fractures can be life threatening. The Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA), which is pronounced “dexa,” is a simple, quick office procedure to measure a woman’s bone density and tell us if she’s in a bone-depleting condition.”
WHO’S NOT BEING SCREENED
Unfortunately, many of the women, who would benefit from a bone density test, are not receiving them.
A study of 51,000 women by the University of California at Davis says that DXA screening was underused for women at increased fracture risk. Specifically, more than 40% of eligible women aged 65-74 are NOT screened. And 57% of women older than age 75 are NOT being screened.
WHO SHOULD BE SCREENED?
Guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend ALL women aged 65 or older should have a DXA bone density test. If the test shows normal bone mass, women 65 and older should have a test every 15 years.
Why 15 years between screenings? Studies have shown that women who have a normal bone mass at aged 65 generally will go 15 years before osteoporosis develops.
If your bones show some thinning, your Gynecologist can discuss treatments and when you might need another DXA test.
A number of women younger than age 65 should also have the Bone Mass Density scan. In this group are women with fragile bones or other risk factors for osteoporosis, such as:
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
You can help keep your bones strong by making sure foods with calcium and vitamin D are in your diet (salmon, leafy greens). Vitamin supplements alone don’t seem to help.
Add some weight-bearing exercise to your workouts. This includes weightlifting, as well as simply walking or exercises that help develop your balance, such as Tai Chi or Yoga.
Sources include: McLeod Health, US Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, National Women’s Health Network, American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Columbia University Osteoporosis Center