What is it?
Osteoporosis vs. Osteopenia
Bone Mineral Density, commonly known as BMD is the measurement of calcium levels in bones. This is a major factor in determining what the person has, Osteoporosis or Osteopenia. It is a non-invasive and painless procedure usually done on the hip, spine, wrist, etc.
Osteopenia can be diagnosed by a simple radiograph, BMD is measured through Dual Energy X- Absorptiometry or DEXA. This scan uses low-energy X-Rays that expose patients to much less radiation than standard x-rays and can assess calcium levels in bone. The results are measured as a “score” and are compared to those of healthy individuals.
What the BMD Numbers Mean
A patient’s BMD is given a T-score, which is derived by comparing it to an average score for a healthy 30-year-old of the same sex and race. The difference between the “normal young” score and the patient’s score is referred to as a standard deviation (SD). A Standard Deviation from 1 to 2.5 defines if the patient has Osteopenia or Osteoporosis. Medication is advised according to the severity of the disease. Along with the medications, certain lifestyle changes are necessary for a healthy life.
|T-score||What the score means|
|2.5 to -1 SD||Normal bone density|
|Between -1 and -2.5||Osteopenia (low bone density)|
Who Is Bound to get Osteopenia/Osteoporosis?
There are certain factors on which we can define the risk of a person for having moderate to severe loss of bone mass. The factors are:
- Gender: Women are a higher risk because they have less bone mass than men. Women also often experience a loss of bone mass after menopause.
- Race: Asian and Caucasian women, especially those who are small-boned, are at highest risk.
- Family history: Patients with a family history of low bone mass have a 50%-85% increased risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Age: Most people (men and women) lose about 0.5% of bone mass every year after the age of 50.
- Lifestyle choices: A poor diet with a lack of calcium and vitamin D, smoking, excessive use of alcohol or caffeine, and lack of exercise contribute to a loss of bone mass.
- Other medical conditions: Hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, and Cushing’s syndrome, can contribute to bone loss. Certain medications (eg, prednisone or phenytoin) are known to cause bone loss as well.
Prevention is better than cure
We always think that these diseases have no cure but due to the age factor, these diseases are inevitable but this does not mean that we will not be able to prevent these. It can be done in the following ways:
- Eat healthy , Eat right. It is important that we get a regular supply of calcium, magnesium, vitamins D, K and C through our regular food intake.
- Regular physical activity that includes weight bearing exercises, such as low-impact aerobics, jogging, and walking to help minimize bone loss.
- Avoiding smoking and excessive use of alcohol.
- Regular health check along with the cardiac screening is required for the people of age group above 50.
- Intake of Calcium tablets and Iron supplements.
- Use of medications to help improve bone health if deficiencies in bone mass are detected.
Along with eating right and getting regular exercise, talk to your doctor about having your bone mineral density measured, especially if you are over the age of 50 or fall into one of the higher risk groups mentioned above.