Women’s Health & The Importance of Bone Density Tests

It’s a well-known fact that as you age, the more mindful you should be of your health and regular doctor visits. There are a variety of health challenges that could potentially arise with age, especially for women. With that said, Americans today can expect to live longer than ever before. Once you make it to 65 years old, data suggests that you can live on average for another 19.3 years.

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While there are a variety of chronic illness that can affect the senior population, the National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 54 million Americans over the age of 50 are affected by low bone mass, putting them at risk for a fracture or break that could lead to poor senior health and reduce the quality of life. Even more alarming, out of the estimated 10 million Americans with osteoporosis, about 80 percent are women. The National Osteoporosis Foundation also estimates that by the year 2020 that number will increase to 64.4 million Americans.

 

Even though all senior citizens should think about their bone health, women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men due to several factors: women have less bone mass than men, women tend to live longer, and women take in less calcium than their male counterparts. To identify if you suffer from osteoporosis, the “silent disease,” have your physician conduct a bone density test. Below are two types of bone density tests and some of the most useful information for women to consider as it relates to their bone health.

 

Central DXA 

DXA stands for dual energy x-ray absorptiometry, and research shows this test is imperative in diagnosing osteoporosis. Women over the age of 60 should receive central DXA tests to be on the lookout for signs of osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures. A good best practice is to schedule this test around the time of yearly mammograms and pap tests.

 

Doctors also might recommend central DXA if women have lost at least 1.6 inches in height, fractured a bone, taken certain drugs, received a transplant or experienced a drop in hormone levels. More importantly, healthcare providers primarily measure bone density in the hip or spine, because these bones carry a greater risk of fracture.

 

Peripheral Screenings

Along with the central DXA test, there are also three types of peripheral screenings that measure a person’s bone density in the lower arm, wrist, finger or heel. The types of bone screenings include pDXA (peripheral dual energy x-ray absorptiometry), QUS (quantitative ultrasound) and pQCT (peripheral quantitative computed tomography). Not only can these three tests identify if a person might need additional bone density tests, peripheral screenings are also useful when a central DXA is not available. One drawback to peripheral screenings – these tests cannot be compared to the results of a central DXA, because these screenings cannot accurately diagnosis osteoporosis like the central DXA test can.

 

While most individuals need a referral from their healthcare provider to have a bone density test, you can also contact your healthcare provider or insurance plan to find out where the test is available. All bone density tests are non-invasive, quick and painless.

 

If you’ve undergone a bone health screening and received an osteoporosis diagnosis, don’t fret. OsteoStrong is a wellness solution that has been scientifically proven to dramatically (and painlessly) increase bone density in just a few months. Sessions are non-invasive, do not involve breaking a sweat and take less than 10 minutes each week. To learn more about recovering your bone density, find an OsteoStrong nearest you.