Features May 2012 Issue

Don’t Delay Periodic Bone-Health Analysis

Despite recent findings, you should undergo regular osteoporosis screening and have your doctor assess your fracture risk, a Cleveland Clinic expert advises.

Most experts recommend osteoporosis screening with bone-density scans for all women age 65 and older, but the ideal interval for follow-up testing remains unclear. A study published in January in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) suggests that older women with normal bone density or mild osteopenia (low bone mass) on an initial screening can safely wait up to about 17 years to have their next bone-density test. But the study has several limitations, a Cleveland Clinic expert points out, and the findings don’t necessarily apply to you. “You shouldn’t assume that everyone with mild osteopenia can wait 17 years,” says Chad Deal, MD, head of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease at Cleveland Clinic. “You have to individualize.”

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