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Health News :: Start a conversation about bone health – May is National Osteoporosis Awareness
VINTON, IA (May 5, 2011) — Every year, approximately 1.3 million Americans -- one in 300 people, or 17 people in a city the size of Vinton, suffer a bone fracture caused by osteoporosis.
"Today, 25 million Americans have a bone thinning disease known as osteoporosis," said Monica Stark of the Virginia Gay Hospital Imaging Services Department. "Osteoporosis progresses without symptoms or pain until a fracture occurs, typically in the hip, spine, or wrist -- fractures that can cause permanent disability, loss of independence or death."
Age is the main factor in osteoporosis; it particularly affects Caucasian woman over 65. But everyone must consider their future risk.
Diet and exercise are an important part of protection from this disease, but genetics and medical history also have a large impact on risk factors.
"I was surprised to find out that there are 50 or 60 medicines for those who have osteoporosis," said Stark. Those different medications target the varying causes of the bone deterioration.
"We all renew our skeletal system naturally every several years, but those with osteoporosis can't renew theirs as quickly," she explains.
Regardless of the cause of osteoporosis, diet and exercise can help maintain bone strength and density; and many of the medicines can actually help reverse the bone loss.
"We can protect ourselves by eating at least 3 dairy products a day (equivalent to around 1,000 mg of calcium per day) and exercising at least 30 minutes, three times a week. Healthy bones need enough calcium, plenty of weight-bearing activity and a healthy lifestyle." she said.
To help area residents find out if they are risk, Stark and her staff plan to set up an Osteoporosis Awareness table outside of Fareway on Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The best way to determine one's risk for osteoporosis is to have a bone density test. Since 2004, Virginia Gay Hospital has had a bone densometer in its Imaging Service Department. Similar to an X-ray, that machine is a low-radiation system that measures the density of a patient's bone structure.
The event is part of the joint effort by Virginia Gay Hospital and the National Osteoporosis Foundation to celebrate National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Mont throughout May. The observance serves as an opportunity to bring attention to a disease that may affect up to 44 million Americans. It is also an opportunity to educate the public about prevention and treatment.
A recent National Osteoporosis Foundation and Harris Interactive survey showed that Americans are aware of osteoporosis, its risk factors and how to prevent the disease. However, 34 percent of respondents indicated they had never heard of osteoporosis at all, showing that more works needs to be done. The survey also showed that nearly 70 percent of women who responded to the survey believe that osteoporosis can be prevented. However, only 50 perfect recognized exercise as a method of prevention and only 27 percent believed diet had an impact.
To bring attention to osteoporosis Virginia Gay Hospital and the National Osteoporosis Foundation are calling on individuals to do their part by:
· Understanding their risk factors
· Striving to get enough calcium, vitamin D, and bone health exercise
· Talking to their doctor about when to get a bone density test.
· Spreading the word about osteoporosis, especially to loved ones
For more information about osteoporosis, including prevention, risk factors and treatment, please visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation website at www.nof.org or call 800-231-4222.