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New Osteoporosis Screening Guidelines

January 21, 2011 @ 6:00 am
posted by Dr Ginther

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released new guidelines for screening for Osteoporosis by using DXA to test for Bone Mineral Density.  These are more restrictive than current National Osteoporosis Foundation guidelines and may predict cutbacks in covered services coming under “Obamacare” which is scheduled to cut Medicare spending by 30 per cent over the next 10 years.

The new guidelines recommend DXA screening for all women over 65.  They also allow for screening of younger women who are postmenopausal and have enough risk factors to place them at greater risk of fracture than a 65 year old with no risk factors. 

The USPSTF guidelines do not include screening women to determine a baseline BMD at menopause to identify those with very low BMD unless they have major or multiple risk factors.   The guidelines also do not include men of any age regardless of risk factors.

By contrast, the National Osteoporosis Foundation and other leading patient care advocates do recommend a baseline screening of all women at age 50 or menopause with any risk factors, including many medical conditions and medications.  

NOF guidelines also recommend screening all men at age 70 and men over age 50 with risk factors.  Currently over 20% of all osteoporosis patients are men. 

NOF guidelines also recommend screening for any person with a Fragility Fracture.  Such individuals are often younger than 50 and usually have easily correctable reasons for their osteoporosis.

Early screening and taking measures to prevent osteoporosis is far better than waiting until osteoporosis is far advanced.  Treatment is always easier early in a disease.  Individuals qualifying for screening under NOF guidelines should consider getting screened for osteoporosis sooner rather than later.

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