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    Stay Bone Strong

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | May 19th, 2019

    Stay Bone Strong

    My mother took a 10 weeks course at the senior citizen center on how to prevent falls. After the course was completed, she received a certificate. I asked her to summarize what she learned. She said, “I learned a lot but at the end, you really want to do everything you can not to fall because you can die”.

    Maybe if I had given her enough time, she would have elaborated more, but I knew what she was talking about. She was talking about the silent killer – osteoporosis. By taking the 10 weeks course on fall prevention, she was learning all she could do to prevent falls to avoid fractures especially a hip fracture.

    May is National Osteoporosis Month. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones become weak and brittle. Osteoporosis is common. Most people who have osteoporosis do not know they have it until a fracture occurs. One in two women over the age 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is serious and even deadly.

    Each year in the U.S., approximately 300,000 hip fractures occur usually after a fall. Approximately 75,000 Americans who experience a hip fracture die in the year following the hip fracture. Another 75,000 Americans move from the hospital to a nursing home and never return “home”. The remaining 150,000 Americans never regain their previous function. Six months after a hip fracture, only 15 percent of patients can walk across a room unaided.

    Osteoporosis is treatable, if not preventable. In honor of their 35th Anniversary, the National Osteoporosis Foundation has created a free downloadable resource tool titled 35 Ways to Stay Bone Strong. All women and men can start where they are to get their bones strong. Bone health is important at all ages.

    A checklist is provided to help you remember to get your questions answered and make the most of your visit with your healthcare provider. I downloaded the questions and want to try to answer some. This is not to stop you from asking your physician the questions.

    1. Do I have risk factors for osteoporosis or fractures? Risk factors include getting older, smoking, excessive alcohol abuse and family history of hip fracture.
    • Am I getting enough calcium and vitamin D? If you are younger than 50 years old, you should be getting 1000 mg of calcium daily and 400 – 800 international units (IUs) of Vitamin D daily. If you are 50 years and older, you should be getting 1200 mg of calcium and 800 – 1000 IUs  of Vitamin D.
    • What kind of exercise can help me build strong bones? Be physically active every day. Weight-bearing exercise (for example, fast walking, hiking, jogging and weight training) may strengthen bones and slow the rate of bone loss than comes with aging. Balancing and muscle-strengthening exercises can reduce the risk of falling and fracture.
    • Could any medications I take cause bone loss? The steroids you take for asthma and medication for thyroid disease to name a few can cause bone loss.
    • Do I have medical conditions that could cause bone loss? Hyperthyroidism and arthritis.
    • Do I need a bone mineral density (BMD) test? Medicare will cover testing starting at age 65, however you may be tested at a younger age, if you have certain risk factors.
    • Are my BMD results normal? Anytime a test is done, find out when to expect the results and talk with your doctor. If the BMD is abnormal, talk with your doctor about the various medications that are available.
    • How do I prevent falls? Make sure that you eliminate things in your environment that can contribute to falls. Make sure there is ample lighting in the house. Use nonskid rugs on the floor. Place mats and/or grab bars in the shower.

    The above information is from the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

    One Response to “Stay Bone Strong”

    1. This is very useful advice. Thank you:-)

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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