Anti aging guide

What is Osteoporosis



How can osteoporosis affect older people especially women and how it could be slowed down.

This is progressive thinning of the bones which mainly affects women following the menopause. Specifically, it affects one in every four women over the age of 60, but it can affect men too. One man in every nine over the age of 60 has osteoporosis to some extent.

Osteoporosis is a slow disease, developing over several years. It is associated with easy fractures of the bones, mainly of the hip, wrist and spine. In the UK, osteoporosis causes 60,000 hip fractures,50,000 wrist fractures and 40,000 spinal fractures every year.

Until the age of around 30, our bones store calcium and are able to keep growing and repairing any damage effectively. After this age, we begin to lose calcium from the bones. The rate of this loss can be slowed down or increased depending on certain factors. Young women should consume high-calcium food to store as much calcium as possible before the aging process starts reducing it from the bones.

The spine may be first to be affected, resulting in weakness and the curving of the spine called ‘dowager’s hump’. It is quite common for older women to complain of back pain for which no reason can be found initially, but on further investigation osteoporosis is diagnosed.

An important reason for the development of osteoporosis in women is the decline of the levels of oestrogen associated with the menopause. Low levels of oestrogen are connected with accelerated drain of calcium from the bone. HRT replaces the oestrogen but there are other factors which may help prevent osteoporosis.

As mentioned above, we all need to build up a plentiful storage of calcium in our bones to start with. This is only possible before the age of 30-35. After this age, the reserves of calcium in the body gradually fall. Weight-bearing exercise, avoiding smoking or alcohol, and a diet high in calcium all help in reducing the rate of calcium loss from the bones.

The risk of developing osteoporosis is higher in women-who:

  • had their menopause before the age of 45
  • had a hysterectomy before the age of 40
  • have infrequent periods
  • are thin, fair-haired and of small stature

The risk is also high in both men and women who:

  • take prednisolone or other steroids
  • have recently had a bone fracture
  • have had chemotherapy
  • have a close relative who had the disease
  • have experienced loss of height

The diagnosis is confirmed by special X-ray tests. Bone mineral density scans can pinpoint individuals who have a high risk of developing the disease. If you are at risk, you will be given priority for a scan.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - March 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm