Matter of the Bones

Dr. Veera Reddy J, Consultant - Orthopaedics & Trauma, Columbia Asia Hospital Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Columbia Asia is one of the world’s leading hospital & healthcare chains offering a wide range of healthcare & diagnostic services across Heart Care, General Surgery, Nephrology, Urology, Gynecology, ENT, Endocrinology, Neurology, and many other areas.

Osteoporosis is a disease of bones that weakens them and increases the risk of sudden and unexpected fractures. Osteoporosis occurs when the bone which is a living tissue is constantly broken and replaced and when the creation of a new bone doesn’t keep up with the removal of old bone, resulting in an increased loss of bone mass and strength. Bone density also diminishes in accordance to age and pressurizing oneself by lifting weights would increase the risk of it.

Women are more prone to osteoporosis than men, as they start with lower bone density than their male peers and lose bone mass more quickly, particularly during the time of menopause. In women, the rate of bone loss speeds up after menopause, when estrogen levels falls.

Who Are At High Risk?
Both men and women can develop osteoporosis, but women in their pre-menopausal stages are more prone to it because of the deteriorating estrogen level in their body. And also individuals with the following traits are at a high risk of developing osteoporosis:

• Family history of the disease
• Alcohol consumption
• Lack of exercises
• Early menopause (before age 45)
• Smoking
• A long-term steroid medication
• Obese (over-weight)
• Low levels of Vitamin-D

Osteoporosis & Women
Women nearing the age of 45are more inclined towards the symptoms of the disease because of their fragile bones, which are most likely to fracture and this seems to be a major risk associated with osteoporosis. During the first five to 10 years following menopause, women can lose up to 20 percent of the bone density. This is predominantly attributed to insufficient estrogen and also low intake
of calcium during the lifetime. The accelerated bone loss after menopause is a major cause of osteoporosis in women, referred to as postmenopausal osteoporosis. This is true even in women who seem to otherwise have normal health.

Women are more prone to osteoporosis than men, as they start with lower bone density than their male peers and lose bone mass more quickly, particularly during the time of menopause

Causes of Osteoporosis
• Low Body Mass Index: Doctors believe that a BMI of 20 to 25 is ideal. Anyone with a BMI of 19 is considered underweight leading to the risk factor of osteoporosis.
• Eating disorders: Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can considerably reduce calcium intake and accelerate mineral loss from bone. Estrogen deficiency in younger women contributes to bone loss in a similar way as the estrogen deficiency does after menopause.
• Age: Most of the time hip fractures occur in people aged above 50 years and older mainly because of reduced bone mineral density.
• Menopause in women: The decrease in the levels of estrogen would lead to an increase in bone remodelling, but in elderly people this remodelling results in loss of bones rather than formation.
• Consumption of alcohol: It is revealed that more than two units of alcohol consumption per day can lead to the risk of developing hip fractures in both men and women.

Diagnosing & Testing of Osteoporosis
A bone density test can help you determine if you have osteoporosis or are at risk. It's an important test because low bone mineral density rarely has any symptoms, until a fracture occurs. The test uses X-rays to measure how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are in a square centimeter of bone and generally higher the mineral content, the denser the bone is. The process of diagnosing osteoporosis will begin with a physical exam. X-rays may also be taken to detect skeletal problems such as fractures.

A bone mineral density (BMD) test measures bone mass which is used to diagnose osteoporosis. BMD test is also used to assess your risk for fractures, determine the rate of bone loss, and measure your response to treatment for osteoporosis.

Few Tips for Women to Prevent Osteoporosis
• Quit smoking: Smokers are often prone to lower bone density, and also cigars add on to the chances of bone loss, therefore women should be careful and quit smoking if they are addicted to it

• Regular exercise: To keep one fit and away from diseases, regular workouts are a must, and for women in their menopausal stage, a regular brisk walk would help in increasing bone density and keeping them flexible.

• Dietary food: A healthy diet which includes adequate consumption of Vitamin D and calcium foods like eggs, green vegetables, cereals, orange juice etc will certainly improve the calcium content in your body, increasing the bone density

• Avoid excess consumption of alcohol: Limited alcohol consumption is always good for health as excessive consumption of alcohol would lead to imbalance of calcium content in the body risking the bone condition.