Low bone mass in Postmenopausal Women

by Medindia Content Team on  January 15, 2002 at 5:03 PM Research News   - G J E 4
Low bone mass in Postmenopausal Women
According to researchers most of the postmenopausal women enrolled in a national study had undetected low bone mineral density, some of them with osteoporosis.The research, found that these women are at increased risk of having a bone fracture within one year. According to Dr. Ethil Siris, of Cleavland University College of Surgeons in New Jersy, when a woman reaches menopause and loses estrogen, she can lose a good deal of bone density faster than it can be replaced and as a result have fragile bones and fractures.The study found that nearly 40 percent of postmenopausal women in the United States have undetected low bone mass, placing them at serious risk for osteoporotic fracture as they age.

Dr.Ethil and Dr. Charles H. Chesnut, professor of radiology and medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, reported their findings from the National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment. NORA is the largest study of osteoporosis conducted to date in the United States, recruiting some postmenopausal women ages 50 and older with no previous diagnosis of osteoporosis. Given the economic and social costs of osteoporotic fractures women often experience complications following a hip or spine fracture that results in death strategies to identify and manage osteoporosis in the primary-care setting need to be established and implemented.

Dr. Felca Cotman, assistant professor of medicine at Cleavland University,we advocate that women be screened for bone density by age 60 but there is a lack of awareness on the part of both physicians and patients to do the scans. Cotman said physicians and patients may not be motivated to screen for bone density loss because up to five years ago there was no real treatment except estrogen replacement, but since then four drugs have been produced that reduce the amount of postmenopausal rapid bone loss.

Osteoporosis is thinning of the bones with a reduction in bone mass due to depletion of calcium and bone protein. People with osteoporosis are more likely to experience fractures that are often slow to heal. A condition known as osteopenia represents low bone mass, but not to the severe extent of osteoporosis. Both osteoporosis and osteopenia can be diagnosed by bone density scans.

Dr.Ethil said dual energy X-ray absorptiometry of the hip and spine currently is the "gold standard" for measurement of BMD.Though the equipments are costly, they were installed and put to use.However, black women are not as much at risk for low bone density because they have different bone shape and have 5percent to 11 percent more bone mass than white women, according to Haney.

Haney feels that men do not experience the same amount of bone density loss because they have heavier bones to begin with, they consume more calcium during their lifetime and they don't lose estrogen as women do at menopause. However, slighter men and men living longer lives can also experience osteoporosis.

Age, personal or family history of fracture, Asian or Hispanic heritage, smoking and cortisone use were associated with significantly increased likelihood of osteoporosis, according to Siris. Higher body mass index, African-American heritage, estrogen or diuretic use, exercise and alcohol consumption significantly decreased the likelihood of loss of bone density.


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