Why Don’t You Know Your Risk of Osteoporosis-related Fractures?

What is osteoporosis? In short, osteoporosis is the slow and progressive loss of bone strength. Although everyone’s bones lose strength with age, you’re officially diagnosed with “osteoporosis” if your bone mineral density score (your “T score”) is less than 2.5.

The major complications of osteoporosis are bone fractures. The primary goal of osteoporosis management is to prevent fractures.

What Increases Your Risk of Osteoporosis?

Several factors will increase your risk of osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related fractures. Here’s a list of the major risk factors:

  1. Age ≥65 y
  2. Vertebral compression fracture
  3. Fracture after age 40
  4. Medications (several medications can increase your risk of osteoporosis fractures)
  5. Parent with hip fracture
  6. Osteopenia (“pre-osteoporosis) identified on x-ray
  7. Current smoking
  8. High alcohol intake
  9. Low body weight ( <120 lbs) or major weight loss (>10% of weight at age 25)
  10. Rheumatoid arthritis

What Drugs Increase Your Risk for Osteoporosis or Fractures?

Several medications (SSRI antidepressants, bisphosphonates) are linked to low bone mineral density scores and/or fractures (hip & spine). Oral steroids, like prednisone, have been associated with fractures for a long time. High doses taken for greater than or equal to 3 months are increase your chances of an osteoporosis-related fracture

Other drugs that can cause osteoporosis or fractures include proton pump inhibitors (Nexium), antidepressants (Paxil), vitamin A & certain diabetes medications (Actos). A fall can, obviously, increase your risk of breaking a bone; so, any medication that increases your risk of falling will increase your risk of having fracture, too.

Pharmacist’s Tips

  • Use this post to make an inventory of your risk factors. Then, use the World Health Organization’s easy-to-use fracture calculator to calculate your risk of having a osteoporosis fracture in the next 10 years.
  • A diet high in vitamin D and calcium may lower your risk of osteoporosis and osteoporosis-related fractures
  • If you’re at very high risk for hip, spine or other fractures, medications like Actonel and Fosamax may be helpful.

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