RALEIGH, N.C. — Many people remember a grandmother or older family member breaking a hip -- a classic result of osteoporosis, a bone loss disease.
Twenty-five million Americans have osteoporosis; most are women. Women can benefit more from bone-saving medicine than doctors once thought.
Scan technician Colleen Krajmiak usually sees patients over age 65 or 70 coming in for bone scans, but younger women can also benefit from what a digital scan reveals.
Digital bone scans are quick, safe and painless.
A scan can identify osteopenia, an early indicator of bone loss. Fractures are common in the hip and vertebrae.
Hip fractures can be a serious matter.
"Elderly women who suffer hip fractures have a higher mortality rate as a complication of the hip fracture than women who have breast cancer and lung cancer combined," said Dr. William van anthros, an orthopedic radiologist.
A new study shows a significant number of women who break bones do not have full-fledged osteoporosis. They can benefit from hormone replacement therapy and medication that adds bone mineral density.
"If you can catch it at an early stage, then those therapies are much more effective in preventing progression to osteoporosis," van anthros said.
Van anthros also recommends calcium and vitamin D in food and supplements, and reducing alcohol and caffeine intake. Smoking is another risk factor.
Moderate exercise is good for the bones.
"For instance, walking or running, the bone will remodel itself and lay down new bone," van anthros said.
Menopausal and postmenopausal women should get a bone density scan. Women over 65 and men over 70 should get one every year.
There are two risk factors for osteoporosis that cannot be avoided. There is a greater chance of developing the disease if there is a family history and Asians and Caucasians are high-risk groups.