New guideline suggested for osteoporosis treatment

SHAVERTOWN, Pa. (WBRE/WYOU) — An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from a disease that robs their bones of their strength. Now, a new guideline recommends the best way to prevent fractures in women and men who suffer from osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis makes bones more fragile. This new guideline aims to provide both short and long-term benefits for patients.

When it comes to osteoporosis, the numbers are staggering. At least 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will suffer from the condition. “Now, many people have it and don’t know it because it’s a disease without symptoms for the most part,” said Commonwealth Health Primary Care Physician John Carey, MD.

The disease robs the skeletal system of bone tissue and makes bones brittle and weak. “I tell people to think of osteoporosis like sort of having termites in your house. On Monday, your house is fine. When it collapses on Tuesday, you’ve got a big problem,” said Dr. Carey from his Shavertown office.

Osteoporosis is blamed on hormonal changes or a lack of calcium or vitamin D. Supplements, a healthy diet and exercise play critical roles in treatment. Now, there’s a new recommendation. Just this week, the American College of Physicians issued guidelines recommending the use of medication to treat patients with osteoporosis. Specifically, the course of action calls for middle aged and older women with osteoporosis to receive bone strengthening drug therapy for five years. Dr. Carey said, “The bisphosphonates are one category of drugs and then there are some newer ones, monoclonal antibody drugs.”

The ACP recommends the same drug use for men to reduce their risk of vertabrae fractures. There is one recommendation the ACP makes where Dr. Carey differs. “We also have been promoting the use of dexa scans regularly and they do play a role,” he said.

The ACP says frequent bone density scans are unnecessary for women with normal bone density since most won’t develop osteoporosis within 15 years of the scan. 59-year-old Kathy Elick, who had a dexa scan three years ago, plans to have one every five. “This way it’s a good baseline for you once you get over 50 to find out, you know, where your bone density is at.”

The American College of Physicians based its findings on random control trials and data. About half of all Americans older than 50 are at risk for osteoporosis fractures.

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