The fragile bones resulting from osteoporosis can lead to death — not from the broken bone, but from complications that arise when an elderly person is confined to a wheelchair or has limited mobility.
The lack of mobility can lead to pneumonia and it is frequently fatal in the elderly.
Dr. Amalia Pineres presented a program on osteoporosis at the Payson Regional Medical Center Senior Circle Dec. 4. She said while more women are diagnosed with the condition, men could also develop it. Should it result in a broken hip, the fatality rate for men is higher than it is for women — 30 percent compared to 20 percent.
Osteoporosis makes bones porous and fragile. Pineres said we start losing bone mass as soon as we are born, so combating that loss with calcium and Vitamin D supplements sooner rather than later is critical. She recommends a daily dosage of at least 400 units of Vitamin D and 1,000 units of calcium.
Many factors influence the loss of bone mass, including the health of the thyroid gland and and levels of estrogen in the system. Alcohol use, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and genetics also play a part in developing the disease.
Some medications and other diseases can also trigger osteoporosis. Nutrition also can contribute.
“Not having children increases the risk a woman will develop osteoporosis,” Pineres said.
A variety of medications on the market can help with osteoporosis. The most common cost $30 to $40 a month, but some treatments can run $1,000 to $1,600 a year — out of pocket if insurance won’t pay, she said.
Pineres said success in the fight against osteoporosis should be measured in whether or not you are breaking bones more frequently, not the number resulting from diagnostic imaging.