Maintaining Your Breast Health

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

Like other organs in the body, bones are constantly changing. Comprised mostly of collagen and calcium phosphate, the body is constantly renewing old bone by tearing away these materials and building them back up. Osteoporosis disrupts this natural rebuilding process, preventing new bone from forming after old bone material is broken down. This causes bones to weaken and become so fragile, they can easily break during normal, everyday activities such as lifting a grocery bag or bending over to put on a shoe.

Women generally start to experience an increase in the rate of bone loss at around age 30. Bone loss accelerates after menopause begins when estrogen levels drop (the female hormone estrogen protects women’s bones). Some women lose as much as 30 percent of their bone mass in the first five years after menopause.

Osteoporosis, however, is largely preventable for most people and there is a lot women can do to prevent this disease. Prevention is very important because, while there are treatments for osteoporosis, there is currently no cure.

The single most useful procedure in diagnosing bone loss is bone density scanning, also called dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) or bone densitometry testing. DXA scanning is an advanced form of x-ray technology that enables physicians to assess the bone’s condition and risk for developing fractures. DXA is also effective in tracking the effects of treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions that cause bone loss.

Bone density screening is highly recommended if you:

  • Are at the onset of menopause (you have a major risk factor for osteoporosis when the menopause cycle begins before age 45).
  • Have a family history of osteoporosis.
  • Are a post-menopausal woman and are not taking estrogen.
  • Have a personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking.
  • Are a post-menopausal woman who is tall (over 5 feet 7 inches) or thin (less than 125 pounds).
  • Use medications that are known to cause bone loss, including corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications such as Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs.
  • Have type 1 diabetes, liver disease or kidney disease.

DXA scanning and other outpatient imaging is performed at the Women’s Health Center at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center.

For more information, call the Women's Health Center at (706) 880-7411. Mammograms can be scheduled by calling (706) 845-3000.

Women's Health Center
1420 Vernon Road
LaGrange, GA 30240

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