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18September2019

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What you need to know about Osteoporosis…


If you wake up one morning only to find the years have flown by, and you’ve reached that phase of uncontrolled mood swings, hot flushes and irritating weight gain, you could be feeling a little bewildered by symptoms that may seem out of your control. To help avoid uncertainty, and discover ways of easing this transition, it is wise to investigate what other challenges this stage of life may involve…

If you are 50 years old, your chances of having already reached menopause are high. Quite the opposite of signalling the end of your life, a woman of 55 can expect to live a further 28 years, at least – and a huge percentage of women function without their ovaries for a further third of their lifetime!

After menopause is reached, it is important to be aware of the risk of developing Osteoporosis, which literally means ‘porous bones’. It is a condition in which bone tissue is reduced and the micro-architecture of bones is disrupted. This leads to an increased risk of fractures which usually involve the spine, hips or wrists.

Did you know that bone density starts to decrease after reaching a peak when you are 25-30 years old?

This bone loss accelerates in women during menopause, and then slows again, but continues into the advanced years at a rate of 1-2% per year. Women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the five to seven years following menopause. More than one third of women over the age of 50, and nearly half of those over the age of 70, are affected by Osteoporosis. Without preventative therapy, one out of every three White and Asian postmenopausal women will have a spinal fracture.

Your risk of developing Osteoporosis is increased if you experience estrogen loss (such as when you reach menopause), if you smoke or if you have a family history of this condition. You also need to be extra careful if you suffer from eating disorders, abnormal or absent menstrual periods, hyperthyroidism, excessive alcohol consumption, low calcium intake or a vitamin D deficiency. Other risk factors include the use of certain types of medication, like chemotherapy, slender body size, advanced age and other chronic conditions.

 

The good news is that there have been new advances in the treatment of this condition, which have resulted in a drastic reduction in fractures. You can also follow lifestyle changes such as avoiding nicotine, implementing a balanced diet rich in calcium, and doing regular exercises that involve weight training.
It has been found that hormone therapy, which was originally developed to relieve the symptoms of menopause, also prevents the serious long-term complications of estrogen deficiency by decreasing fractures of the spine, hips and wrists by 50-70%.

Good news!

 

Professor L Speroff MD states in Menopause Vol 10 (September 2007) that patients deserve to know that women under the age of 60 receiving Estrogen therapy experience fewer cardiac events, fewer fractures and a reduced number of strokes. Talk to your specialist about the different hormone therapies available. The newest findings about the effectiveness, cost and safety of hormone therapy show that it is an appropriate first line therapy in postmenopausal women, particularly under the age of 60, and with a high risk of fractures.