A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Ask the expert: Bone density scans help reduce fracture risk

Women exercising with handweightsWhy should I have a bone density scan?

It can help confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis, and your risk for suffering a fracture.

Most women who have no known risk factors for bone loss can wait until age 65 for a bone density scan.

However, if you have a family history of osteoporosis, are on certain medications or have diabetes, we recommend you have your first scan at the beginning of menopause.

Ask your provider to use the Fracture Risk Assessment tool, which takes into account several factors to measure your future risk of suffering a bone fracture.

People sometimes overlook bone density as a health concern. But in fact, a woman’s risk of hip fracture due to bone loss is equal to her combined risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancers.

About one-fourth of people over age 50 who have a hip fracture will die within a year, usually because they can’t move around well and contract pneumonia.

Loss of bone density and its related complications represents a large part of my clinical practice.

Many women have a deficiency of Vitamin D, which helps build and protect bone.

In our climate, most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun, so I recommend that most women over age 50 supplement their diets with Vitamin D3, 800 units per day or more.

Dr. le Noir is a family medicine physician, providing care for the entire family. Family medicine emphasizes preventive care and provides care for acute and chronic medical conditions. Patients have access to specialists in over 80 medical areas through Family Medicine teams in more than 40 Marshfield Clinic locations.

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