America is an aging country. As a result, an increase in osteoporosis has become a natural complication. Dr. Sundeep Khosla, Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and Dr. Ethel Siris, Director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center of the Columbia University Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, discuss what osteoporosis is and how it can be treated.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease caused by a decrease in bone density, usually resulting from old age or low levels of estrogen during menopause. Medications taken for a variety of other conditions, such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and anorexia nervosa, can also lead to osteoporosis. Hip fractures are most commonly associated with osteoporosis, and the people who suffer them don’t always make a full recovery. With the increased rate of osteoporosis, the societal cost of fractures will continue to increase dramatically over the next few decades, Dr. Khosla says.
A bone density test is available to help determine who may be at risk and reduce the rate of fractures. But, after recent studies found that typical osteoporosis medications put patients at risk of additional issues, like fracturing the femur or osteonecrosis, many patients began shying away from testing or taking the appropriate medicine. However, many different drugs have been developed to treat osteoporosis, besides the typical ones. As doctors have continued to learn about the medicines and their side effects, they now know how to tailor a prescription to specific patients, for example scheduling extended periods without taking the drug to avoid negative side effects.
Besides encouraging patients to go through testing and not be afraid of the medicine, Dr. Khosla says that taking precautions like educating primary care physicians and patients about the condition could help lower the risk of fractures from osteoporosis. If patients are still hesitant to take medicine, Dr. Siris has one recommendation: don’t fall. By staying in the best physical shape you can and staying mindful and aware throughout the day, individuals can protect themselves from the risk of fractures.
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- Dr. Sundeep Khosla, Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
- Dr. Ethel Siris, Director of the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center of the Columbia University Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital