Better Bone Health: Prevent Osteoporosis

Dec 23, 2013
Specialist pharmacist, Marc Surak provides tips for better bone health to prevent osteoporosis, a condition more common among women.
  • Osteoporosis
  • Female

Did you know a woman’s risk of having a hip bone fracture from osteoporosis is equal to the risk of developing breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined?

Being female is the second most significant “uncontrollable” risk factor for the disease, with age being the first. About 80% of the estimated 10 million Americans who suffer from osteoporosis are women. Given the high rate of prevalence, awareness in this area of women’s health is key to better outcomes.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation defines osteoporosis as a “disease of the bones that happens when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both.”

Express Scripts specialist pharmacists work directly with patients to educate and increase awareness about relevant areas involving women’s health.

Every day my team and I counsel patients who are at risk or who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Given our disease-specific expertise, we can assess a patient’s risk profile with a few simple questions about family history, menopausal state, smoking/alcohol use and other lifestyle habits. We then offer education and tips to help slow the progression of bone loss with age.

We also can recommend steps, such as a bone density test, that can help assess progression of the condition.

For patients who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and are on medication, specialist pharmacists also can help them overcome adherence barriers to get the most out of their treatment.

Bone Basics

First, some basic information about bone that is useful for all of us:

  • Bone is built and lost throughout life.
  • Bone formation outweighs bone loss until peak bone mass at about age 18-25.
  • After age 25, bone loss outweighs bone formation.
  • The more bone you have at peak bone mass, the less likely for osteoporosis to develop later in life.

Women and Osteoporosis

Bone loss accelerates in women after menopause; a woman can lose up to 20% in the first five to seven years after menopause.

Most patients do not realize they have osteoporosis until an unexpected fracture occurs. When they do, it may be the beginning of a long and difficult road to recovery.

Tips for Better Bone Health

While uncontrollable risk factors may increase your likelihood of developing osteoporosis, there are many ways to lower risk and slow the progression even before a diagnosis is made.

Here are a few tips:

  • Maintain an active lifestyle, including weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Maintain a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Ensure you get enough calcium and vitamin D, through food or by taking a supplement

It is important for patients to be aware of the risks and recognize the serious consequences of those risks as they age. Healthy living and exercise can help counteract the uncontrollable risks to a great degree. If medication therapy is started, adherence to a treatment plan is key to ensuring healthy outcomes.

If you have questions, a specialist pharmacist can help.


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