In the United States there are 10 million individuals that have osteoporosis. There are 34 million individuals that have low bone mass which is called osteopenia. Forty to fifty percent of women aged 50 years or older will suffer an osteoporosis related fracture in their lifetime. This is a severe health risk in the United States. We have focused in women’s health on heart disease and breast cancer. However, on the broad scale, Osteoporosis is a much bigger health problem than all of the other women’s health problems put together.
Statistics from year 2000, there were 1.5 million osteoporotic fractures, 513,000 heart attacks, 228,000 strokes and 185,000 cases of breast cancer. So if we add up the cases of heart disease, strokes and breast cancer together, they do not equal the osteoporotic fractures. This is not just a disease of women. Men also have osteoporosis but the severity starts later in their life. Bone density tests, DexaScan, should be done every 2 years after the onset of menopause. Treatment of osteoporosis is important to prevent these debilitating fractures. Osteoporosis can be caused by age, post menopausal, or by medications such as steroids that people take for lung disease or arthritis. Being on steroids even a medium low dose can cause osteoporosis and fractures.
Every woman should be on Calcium with Vitamin D, 1000mg per day until she becomes menopausal and then this should increase to 1500mg per day. Biphosphonate type drugs are the best treatment for osteoporosis. Those drugs are Fosamax, Actonel and Reclast. Fosamax and Actonel can be taken monthly or weekly. Reclast is a new drug that is given IV by vein once a year. Your doctor can help you decide which of these medications are best for you.