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What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition that is characterized by bones that are less dense than, and thus not as strong as, normal bone. Unfortunately, women often do not realize they have osteoporosis until they have a fracture.

Risk factors include: being female, having a small body (under 127 pounds), having a family history of osteoporosis, being over 65 years old and being white or Asian (African American and Hispanic women are also at risk).

When to get a Bone Density Study

If you are approaching menopause or are post-menopausal you should get a bone density test. Women age 60 to 64 with risk factors for osteoporosis and women over 45 who have broken any bones should also get tested. If you are age 40 to 60, you should discuss risk factors and testing with your doctor.

What is a DEXA Scan?

DEXA stands for "dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry," and is considered the most accurate test for bone density. While standard x-rays show changes in bone density after about 40% of bone loss, a DEXA scan can detect changes after about a 1% change. A DEXA scan lasts about 10 minutes, and exposes the patient to less radiation than a standard chest x-ray.

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