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Osteoporosis is often referred as the ‘silent disease’ because it seeps away your bone in silence. There is often limited or no warning signs until the bone unexpectedly breaks.

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is not a part of the natural aging process. Although aging does lead to a reduction in bone density, osteoporosis is a condition that causes accelerated loss in bone density. The main complication surrounding osteoporosis is the increased risk of getting a fracture.

What happens after a fracture?

Patients who suffer from osteoporotic fractures may suffer a great deal of physical inconveniences, including a loss of independence. When a fracture occurs, especially in the hip, spine or wrist, it may reduce or affect a person’s ability to move around and to care for themselves.

How to find out if I have osteoporosis risk?

Getting a bone-density test is the most efficient screening tool. This test, sometimes called a DEXA (Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry) scan, is a kind of X-ray which uses 2 low level radiation x-ray beams to examine the bones. While it is a safe procedure, it should not be done during pregnancy.

Who should get a bone-density scan?

Osteoporosis targets women much more often than men, and it becomes more common after menopause and with advancing age. Bone density testing should be done for women who have been through menopause and are at least 65 years old. Men or women younger than 65 years who have one or more risk factors for fracture should also be screened:

Risk factors for fracture — Factors that increase a person’s risk of fracture and may lead to earlier bone density testing include:

  1. Cigarette smoking
  2. Long-term use of steroid (glucocorticoid) medications such as prednisone
  3. Low body weight
  4. Rheumatoid arthritis
  5. History of a non-traumatic or low trauma bone fracture in self or parents (eg, breaking a bone after falling from standing height or less)
  6. Excessive alcohol consumption (three or more a day)
  7. A disorder strongly associated with osteoporosis, such as diabetes, untreated hyperthyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, early menopause, chronic malnutrition or malabsorption, or chronic liver disease

Patients may need to closely follow-up on their bone-density test after several years, depending on the results of the first test.

The use of preventive screening for osteoporosis is low, as many women are still unaware of the risk of decreased bone density. Women who age 65 years old and above should accept osteoporosis screening to minimize fracture risks. The advantages of early screenings are numerous. Most importantly, early detection of osteoporosis may reduce emotional and financial costs in return for better quality of life.

Men and women of all ages should take time off to care for themselves. Being healthy is a lifelong commitment.

Oriental Melaka Straits Medical Centre provides bone-density screenings. For more information, call Oriental Melaka Straits Medical Centre at 06-315 8888.


Article by,

Dr. Evelyn Lim 林美君医生

Bac.Sc (Hons) Biology (UPM)
Master of Medical Science in Public Health (UM)


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