A patient had no idea why her doc sent her to me for a Complete Bone Health Evaluation. As a “baby-boomer”, she lives by the motto: “You are only as old as you choose to be.” And she chooses to remain young. If only it were possible…..
“I can’t have Osteoporosis. I used to drink milk. I am active and I plan to stay active!!! So I just can’t have Osteoporosis!” Unfortunately, she does have Osteoporosis by BMD on her DXA, by the multiple Vertebral Fractures on VFA, and by FRAX. Still, there are simple steps to rescue her Bone Health before she Fractures.
Are your bones still good enough and just need to be maintained? Or have you fractured several times and need to rebuild your bones? Are Steroid Inhalers supressing your Osteoblasts – the cells that build new bone? (not good) Or have your Osteoclasts – the cells that eat away bone – gone wild (even worse) now that you are post-menopausal or an older guy?
Different problems require different classes of medication. Bisphosphonates, Hormone Replacement Therapy, Synthetic Estrogen Receptor Modifier – Evista, and RANK-Ligand Antibody – Prolia, are all Antiresorptives, which act in different ways. They slow down the Osteoclasts that have gone wild and are eating up the bone. The Anabolic, Forteo, stimulates the Osteoblasts that make new bone matrix. Antiresorptive and Anabolic are radically diferent actions.
Patients who have already fractured may need osteoporosis medications. Adding fractures to a low BMD or T-score on DXA makes the Clinical Osteoporosis more severe and increases Fracture Risk. This is true of vertebral fractures detected on VFA, as well as clinically obvious fractures, like hip or wrist or shoulder.
Fracture Risk is the big deal. Fractures are what we want to avoid. Having suffered one fracture makes a Second Fracture 3 to 5 times as likely as the first. Bummer. Calcium, Vitamin D, Protein, Multivits and Exercise alone often cannot overcome those odds. Real bummer. Adding a medication often can avoid the Second Fracture.
The freedoms and privileges we take for granted have not been free. Our fellow citizens who have served in the military have paid a price. Some lost their lives. Some were maimed. Some acquired nightmares that last forever. Their families also paid and still pay.
Today we remember those we sent to war. We asked and they went. In my day, many of us were encouraged by the draft. Today we rely on a few dedicated volunteers. We (through our elected officials) still ask, and those serving us in the military still go.
To all who have served, living and dead, Thank You For Serving.
Jay Ginther, MD