Osteoporosis is the result of a loss in bone mass, which is measured as bone density, and a structural change in the bones. Bones tend to get weaker as people age; this affects both men and women.
Bone is a living tissue that is constantly being regenerated. This is how the body gets rid of old bone, a process called bone resorption, and replaces it with new bone, a process called bone formation. From the age of thirty-five onwards, most people begin to slowly lose more bone mass than their bodies can replace. As a result, bones get thinner and their structure becomes weaker. This process is accelerated in women undergoing menopause. In men, bone loss is generally more problematic around 70 years of age.
In Spain, it is estimated that 2 million women and 800,000 men have osteoporosis. From a study in which bone densitometry tests were performed on 1,305 Spanish women between 20 and 80 years old, we know that 26.07% of women over 50 have this condition. Only 8.1% of men over 50 have osteoporosis. This percentage increases with age, up to 11.3% in those over 70.
Who is affected by the condition?
Age is not the only risk factor for osteoporosis. Lifestyle, certain illnesses, and even certain medications can cause this condition.
The possibility of osteoporosis must be considered if:
- You are a postmenopausal woman. If it has been more than 10 years since you entered menopause, a bone density test is recommended.
- You don't get a lot of calcium in your diet.
- You suffer from early menopause.
- You take pharmaceuticals such as omeprazole, opiates, or heparins.
- You don't get a lot of sunlight.
- You are a smoker.
- You regularly drink alcohol.
- You don't exercise.
- You have a history of fractures.
- You have a family history of osteoporosis or fractures.
Osteoporosis is also a symptom of rheumatic, metabolic, and other types of illnesses, and it must be considered if a patient is undergoing long-term treatment with corticosteroids.
A diagnosis is made using a thorough clinical history and a specific blood analysis, and is confirmed with a bone densitometry test.
Osteoporosis should be considered a true public health problem that requires the implementation of preventative measures and effective treatments. Thus, the primary objective should be to prevent the first fracture and maintain bone integrity, with an increase in bone mass and an improvement in the quality of the bone, along with taking calcium and vitamin D supplements and antiresorptive or bone-forming medications.
- A 24-hour blood and urine analysis.
- A bone densitometry test, also known as a DXA, carried out by the Department of Nuclear Medicine.
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