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22 November 2017

Everything you need to know about bone density tests

This is another test you should add to your medical checklist – just as important as any other health check-up.

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As we get older, our list of vital medical tests gets longer and longer. Because we’re so busy, we tend to forget about our check-ups, or we may think we don’t need them because we don’t show any symptoms.

Whatever the case, chances are that you might have been skimping on your bone health and bone density tests. Here is all you need to know.

What is the bone density test?

The Bone densitometry or DEXA scan is an examination to help diagnose osteoporosis (brittle bones), which is a condition where bones become weak to the point of breaking. The purpose of the test is to identify the risk of osteoporosis and fractures, so that a treatment plan can be put into place.

How is the scan done?

It’s a simple, painless procedure where the patient lies on a padded table with an X-ray generator positioned underneath and an imaging device above them. The detector slowly passes over the hip and spine, generating images on a computer monitor. The DEXA bone density test is usually completed within 10 to 30 minutes.

When should I start going for a bone density scan?

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), a bone density test is generally recommended for women 65 and older, and men 70 and older, or if you break a bone after the age of 50. You might also want to consider having a scan earlier if you are at risk for osteoporosis, or if you’ve had a total height loss of 4cm since the onset of menopause.

How regularly should I go for a bone density scan?

You should preferably have a scan every one to two years, and within a year if you’ve started a new treatment plan for osteoporosis.

Where should I go for my bone density scan?

Your doctor will be able to advise you where to make an appointment.

Keep your bones healthy

Here are a couple of things you can do for optimum bone health:

  • Include enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet by incorporating dairy, leafy greens and nuts.
  • Do weight training exercises as well as low-impact cardiovascular exercises.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Drink alcohol moderately and quit smoking.

References:

http://www.health24.com/Medical/Tests-and-procedures/Bone-Densitometry-Client-20120721

https://www.nof.org/patients/diagnosis-information/bone-density-examtesting/

This article is provided through a sponsorship from Pfizer in the interests of continuous medical education. Notwithstanding Pfizer's sponsorship of this publication, neither Pfizer nor its subsidiary or affiliated companies shall be liable for any damages, claims, liabilities, costs or obligations arising from the misuse of the information provided in this publication. Readers are advised to consult their health care practitioner for specific information on personal health matters as this is not the intention or purpose of the publication. Specific medical advice or recommendations on the clinical management of patients will not be provided by Pfizer. In this regard Pfizer does not support the use of products for off label indications, nor dosing which falls outside the approved label recommendations and readers must refer to the Package Insert of any product for full prescribing guidelines.

 

 
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