More than 200 million people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis, the ‘Silent Disease’
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) more than 200 million people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis, also known as the ‘Silent disease’. This numbers are particularly relevant as the international community observes World Osteoporosis Day on 20 October. The focus is to highlight what is one of the most common and debilitating bone diseases that affect both men and women.
“Osteoporosis manifests as an abnormal loss of bone mass; it affects the density and quality of the bone causing it to become porous and fragile, thus increasing the risk of fractures. The loss of bone mass occurs without any symptoms and is progressive. In fact, osteoporosis is often discovered only when people have a fall where they sustain a fracture, or take a bone density test,” said Dr. Ehab Saad Mostafa, Specialist Rheumatologist, Medeor 24×7 Hospital in Dubai.
The alarming statistics make prevention and timely diagnosis important. According to the IOF, around the world, one in three women and one in five men are at the risk of an osteoporotic fracture. In fact, an osteoporotic fracture is estimated to occur every three seconds. The most common fractures associated with the disease occur in the hip, spine and wrist. The likelihood of these fractures, particularly in the hip and spine, increase with age in both men and women.
“Age is one of the main risk factors for osteoporosis. The others include gender; osteoporosis affects more women than men, family history, certain medications, poor nutrition, lack of vitamin D, low calcium intake, smoking and lack of exercise,” says Dr. Ehab.
A bone density mineral test and a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry are the recommended tests to check for the presence of osteoporosis. According to Dr. Ehab, patients who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis should also take lab tests, including a chemistry panel, complete blood count, vitamin D levels, a thyroid and urine test to rule out any secondary causes for the disease.
Osteoporosis is treated with certain medications, vitamin D and calcium supplements. However, prevention is still the better part of the cure. “Genetic factors play a big role in osteoporosis. However, a nutritious diet fortified with foods that contain calcium, vitamin D and other important nutrients for bone development, and weight-bearing exercises complemented by low impact cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking, swimming and cycling are a good start as bone development is at its peak during childhood and the onset of adulthood.
Bone thinning is a natural after 25 years of age and cannot be stopped. To ensure that osteoporosis is caught at an early stage, doctors recommend bone density tests especially after 40years old or even less than this age when they have some of the pre mentioned Risk factors. This test is important for those who have a family history of the disease,” said Dr. Ehab.
“At Medeor 24×7 Hospital, we are committed to spreading awareness about this debilitating disease in the community we serve. Both men and women in the UAE are increasingly at the risk of getting osteoporosis. We believe that by providing state-of-the-art diagnostics, world renowned medical professionals and excellent healthcare standards, we can offer the best treatment options to our guests,” said Dr. Shajir Gaffar, the CEO for VPS Healthcare in Dubai and the Northern Emirates.