A new study by Medical College of Wisconsin researchers has found that women who most need bone density testing to determine if they have osteoporosis are the least likely to get it. They are older women who are among the highest risk groups and who suffer most if they break a bone. The study is published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society.
"Over half of hip fracture patients never regain their prior level of functioning and 20 percent of them require nursing home care," according to Joan M. Neuner, M.D., M.P.H., lead author and assistant professor of medicine at the Medical College. Dr. Neuner is on the staff at Froedtert Hospital. "Women are very interested in preventing bone fractures. In an earlier study, 80 percent of women said they would "rather die" than enter a nursing home with a hip fracture."
Osteoporosis, in which the body breaks down bone faster than it is replaced, leading to lace-like, fragile bones, is a significant risk for older women. Nineteen percent of women in the age 65-74 group have it, 32.5 percent of women age 75-84, and over half of women over age 85.
The study points out the need for greater patient and physician education to convince women to get the testing they need, especially as they grow older and to determine if osteoporosis therapy would benefit them.
"Preventive care for older patients must be performed with an understanding of their life expectancy and values," Dr. Neuner says. "Osteoporosis screening may offer important opportunities to improve quality of life for many older patients."
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