According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, osteoporosis affects more than 10 million Americans. Another 44 million adults age 50 and older have low bone mass, which increases their chances of breaking a bone. So, the American College of Physicians recently put out new osteoporosis guidelines to raise awareness and clear up some of the confusion.
The word osteoporosis literally means “porous bone.” It develops when there is an imbalance between bone loss and the formation of new bone. Your bones will become weaker if you’re losing bone cells faster than your body can make new ones. Osteoporosis can cause bones to become so brittle that even a cough or a sneeze can cause a break. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in three places:
It can affect both men and women, but it is most likely to occur in women after menopause, because of the sudden decrease in estrogen.
Pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments for osteoporosis are designed to prevent fractures in three ways:
- Improving bone strength
- Preventing falls
- Reducing the impact force of falls
Despite the various types of treatments being made available, there is no cure. So, the American College of Physicians’ osteoporosis guidelines compare the benefits and risks of short-and long-term drug treatments for people with low bone density or osteoporosis. They include:
- Vitamin D
So, let’s look at the latest osteoporosis guidelines that you can use to help decrease your risk.
Osteoporosis Guidelines: Risk Factors
Among its osteoporosis guidelines, The American College of Physicians lists these risk factors for the disease:
- Gender—Women get osteoporosis more often than men.
- Age—The older you are, the greater your risk of osteoporosis.
- Body size—Small, thin women are at greater risk.
- Ethnicity—White and Asian women are at highest risk. Black and Hispanic women have a lower risk.
- Family history—Osteoporosis tends to run in families. If a family member has osteoporosis or breaks a bone, there is a greater chance that you will too.
Osteoporosis Guidelines:Pharmacologic Treatments
The American College of Physicians osteoporosis guidelines include a recommendation to clinicians to offer pharmacologic treatment with one of the following drugs to reduce the risk for hip and vertebral fractures in women who have known osteoporosis:
- Zoledronic acid
- Denosumab to reduce the risk for hip and vertebral fractures in women who have known osteoporosis.
These are classified as Bisphosphonate medications, which are are a group of medicines that slow down or prevent bone loss, strengthening bones.
Researchers say there is also high-quality evidence showing pharmacologic treatment is beneficial for postmenopausal women. It’s been shown to prevent further bone loss and reduce the risk for initial or subsequent fractures.
Osteoporosis Guidelines: Nonpharmacologic Management
Nonpharmacological management of osteoporosis includes:
- Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake
- Weight-bearing exercise
- Smoking cessation
- Limiting of alcohol and caffeine consumption
- Learning fall-prevention techniques
Researchers say calcium and vitamin D may be added as dietary supplements to osteoporosis treatment regimens, but the effectiveness of these regimens on preventing fractures is unclear. You should talk to your doctor about the proper dosage because a calcium level that gets too high can actually weaken your bones.
Osteoporosis Guidelines: Hormone Therapy
The osteoporosis guidelines from the American College of Physicians recommends against using certain hormone therapies for osteoporosis treatment in women. They include:
- menopausal estrogen therapy
- menopausal estrogen plus progestogen therapy
Researchers say there is moderate to quality evidence showing menopausal estrogen treatment did not reduce fracture risk in postmenopausal women with established osteoporosis.
The American College of Physicians’ osteoporosis guidelines are evidenced based. The studies were limited to those conducted in adults older than 18 years, healthy adults, those with low bone density or those with osteoporosis. Many of the guidelines apply to both men and women.
Another way to make sure your body is getting what it needs to build strong, healthy bones is through your diet. There are two essential minerals needed for normal bone formation—calcium and phosphate. Experts agree that the best way to get the nutrients you need is through food. Our guide “5 Steps to Healthy Eating” will help you read nutrition labels, break down the importance of water in your diet, and list the top 10 heart healthiest vegetables you can eat. Download it today!