We’ve all heard that bone density is crucial to good health. But at what age should you get tested for bone loss? And what’s the difference between osteopenia and osteoporosis, anyway?

Osteoporosis and osteopenia, conditions of low bone mass leading to an increased risk of bone fracture, are extremely common in women, especially after menopause when bone loss is accelerated.

Low bone mass can lead to potential major repercussions such as fractures, such as fracture of the hip. These types of fractures can be difficult in recovery and have the potential for a higher risk of complications, particularly in elderly patients.

A number of people get a bone density test every few years. The main reason to have the test is to find and treat serious bone loss.

But most men and women under age 65 usually do not undergo this type of test. Prior to this age, most people do not have serious bone quality loss.

Their risk of breaking a bone is low, therefore they would not be usually considered appropriate for a bone density exam. People with normal health should exercise regularly and try to consumer sufficient quantities of calcium and vitamin D. These lifestyle habits are great ways to prevent bone loss from occurring.

So, who would most health providers consider appropriate to recommend undergoing a bone density exam, also known as DEXA?

The Choosing Wisely Initiative recommends that women should get a bone scan at age 65. Men age 70 and up may want to talk with their doctors about the risks and benefits before deciding. Younger women, and men ages 50 to 69, should consider the test if they have risk factors for serious bone loss. Risk factors include:

  • Breaking a bone in a minor accident.
  • Having rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Having a parent who broke a hip.
  • Smoking.
  • Drinking heavily.
  • Having a low body weight.
  • Using corticosteroid drugs for three months or more.
  • Having a very low vitamin D level.

Click here to learn more about DEXA bone density exams performed at the Diagnostic Imaging Services centers in Metairie (Veterans Memorial Boulevard), Marrero, Slidell and Covington (Highway 21). Call 504-883-5999 or 985-641-2390 to schedule a visit or click on the green button (above right) to send us a secure email requesting appointment assistance.

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