Aging and Osteoporosis: What you need to know

Aging and Osteoporosis: What you need to know

Osteoporosis is the reduction of bone mineral density. In other words, bones become fragile and are prone to fracture.

Osteoporosis is the reduction of bone mineral density. In other words, bones become fragile and are prone to fracture. Osteoporosis in aging is one of the most common conditions, mainly because it gives no warning signs till a fracture occurs; that is why it is called "the silent thief." In Canada, osteoporosis affects about one out of four women and one out of eight men over 50. Though, there is still hope; in this guide, you will get to know the most critical points about osteoporosis and how to prevent, delay, and treat it.

Osteoporosis, How does it occur?

Typically, our bodies renew our bones in a process called "bone remodeling."Bone remodelling means that your body removes old or aging bone and rebuilds another new bone. It occurs in a certain balance to maintain bone mass and strength to reduce fracture risk.

As we age, bone loss occurs more than building new ones leading to thin bones that are more vulnerable to fragility fractures and painful fractures. Osteoporosis in older adults often occurs in the hip, spine, and wrist.

Causes and risk factors

As mentioned above, shifting the balance of bone remodelling to less new bone formation is the reason for low bone mineral density causing osteoporosis in aging. However, there are many risk factors that you should be aware of to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. A systematic review published in the journal therapeutic advances in musculoskeletal disease mentioned the following points as common risk factors

  • Age: Older adults and seniors after 50 are more prone to osteoporosis than younger people because they have less new bone formation.
  • Gender: Elderly women are more vulnerable to osteoporosis than men, especially after menopause. After menopause, women experience a significant reduction in estrogen levels, making them prone to postmenopausal osteoporosis. Moreover, women have thinner and less dense bones than men.
  • Calcium and vitamin D: The deficiency of calcium and vitamin D stimulates the secretion of more parathyroid hormone that takes the calcium in the bones out into circulation to fulfill the deficiency . Thus resulting in bone loss and osteoporosis.
  • Certain chronic conditions: Some medical conditions affect bone density directly or through their medications. For instance, chronic lung disease, cancer, and overactive thyroid or parathyroid.
  • Certain medications: Including glucocorticoids, some antiseizure drugs, and aluminum-containing antacids.
  • Weight: Being underweight with a low BMI
  • Smoking and alcohol: Cigarettes and excessive alcohol intake are risk factors of osteoporosis
  • Physical activity: Insufficient physical activity and muscle strength
  • Family history: If you have a family history of osteoporosis, this may increase your risk of having low bone mineral density

Diagnosis

Although there are no early warning signs of osteoporosis, there is still a way to figure it out. It is a bone mineral density test (BMD) or bone densitometry test (DXA or DEXA scan). This painless test measures the bone mineral density to evaluate your chances of osteoporosis and bone breakdown; do not worry; it is like having an x-ray.

What are the expected results?

Results of this test are reported as a T-score as follows:

  • If the T score is -1 to +1. This indicates a normal bone density
  • If the T-score is -1 to -2.5. This indicated a low bone density
  • If the T-score is -2.5 or lower. This indicates osteoporosis

Who should go for this test?

Generally, anyone who experiences any fragility fractures should perform this test. However, the following people should go for it as a kind of prevention because of being prone to osteoporosis:

  • People who undergo medications or have medical conditions causing low bone density
  • People with a family history of osteoporosis
  • Postmenopausal women
  • People over the age of 50
  • In case of having sudden back pain or loss of height

Prevention

The following tips are recommended for you to reduce the risk of having osteoporosis, hip fracture, and spinal fractures.

Weight-bearing exercise: It is advisable to follow an exercise program that contains some weight-bearing exercises to improve your bone strength and muscle mass. For instance, weight training, walking or dancing.

Get enough calcium: Calcium is critical in maintaining optimal bone mass. The recommended daily intake of calcium is 1000 to 1200 mg per day. Consume enough calcium-rich foods, including milk, yogurt, cheese, sesame, kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage. Moreover, there are many calcium supplements; you can ask Mednow doctors about the best one for you if you do not have a nearby physician.

Get enough vitamin D: vitamin D is critical for calcium absorption. Try to get exposure to the sun for around 15 minutes between 10 a.m to 3 p.m to get enough vitamin D. Additionally, vitamin D is present in foods including mushrooms and fatty fish, and many supplements.

Protein and potassium: Consume enough proteins as they are critical for strong bones. Furthermore, potassium improves calcium metabolism. According to NIH, the recommended daily allowance for men over 19 years is 3,400 mg, while for women is 2,600 mg. Also, potassium is present in bananas, soybeans, potatoes, meats, poultry, fish, milk, yogurt, and nuts.

 

Hormone replacement therapy: This is hormone therapy for postmenopausal women to replace estrogen deficiency. However, some research stated it might increase the risk of breast cancer, so consult your doctor first.

 

Quit smoking: Smoking won't just harm your lungs but also your bone mass.

 

Prevent falls: Falling as an elderly person is the most common risk factor for hip fractures. Hip fractures may lead to permanent disability and fewer than 50% experience a full recovery. You can prevent falls by wearing comfortable shoes, preventing being in a rush, providing a safe environment inside your house, and wearing eyeglasses if you suffer from eyesight problems.

 

Alcohol and Caffeine: Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption. 

Treatment

Treatment depends on the grade of your bone mass, cause of the low bone mass, as well as other patient specific factors. There are five main treatments for osteoporosis, including Bisphosphonates, Calcitonin, Raloxifene, Denosumab, Parathyroid hormone.

Final thoughts

Osteoporosis is a reduction in bone mineral density causing fragile bones that are easily fractured. It raises hip fracture risk among the aging population. However, if you follow the previous prevention tips and take your medications regularly, you will push your body towards forming new healthy bone tissues and muscles as well.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as medical or other professional advice. A healthcare provider should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed, and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services is expressly given or implied by Mednow or its affiliates.

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