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Tips for Reducing Risk of Osteoporosis

For many seniors, a downward health spiral begins with a single bad break. Broken bones may lead to a series of health problems from which the patient never completely recovers. This is why it is important to be aware of a disease called osteoporosis and to manage its symptoms when diagnosed, according to Dr. Barry Malinowski, medical director for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio.

Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak and break easily, especially bones in the spine, hip or wrist. It is a major public health threat for an estimated 44 million Americans, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation .

Anyone can get osteoporosis, but it is most common in women. In fact, half of all women 50 and older will break a bone because of osteoporosis, the Foundation says.

In addition to gender and age, there are other risks for osteoporosis, including a family history of the disease. It can be detected through a bone density test. The U.S.

Preventive Services Task Force, part of U.S. Health and Human Services, recommends this test for all women ages 65 and older . The test is covered by Medicare once every 24 months, or more often if medically necessary.

Because there is no known cure, osteoporosis can be a difficult diagnosis for patients to digest. But the risks of dangerous breaks can be reduced through lifestyle and medicine, according to Malinowski, who recommends the following:

“Osteoporosis cannot be taken lightly,” said Malinowski. “Thankfully, the risk of broken bones can be mitigated through medicine and lifestyle and there are resources available to help, including many at no extra cost through Medicare.”

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