Lifewatch: Osteopenia

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Osteopenia is a silent disease until you develop a fracture, but it can be prevented with healthy habits.

Louisiana News Anchor Mari Wilson was diagnosed with the condition when a bone density scan proved she had osteopenia.

"I thought at my age that I wouldn't really have any problems, but it did turn out that I had already started to lose a little bit of density," said Wilson.

"Osteopenia is a condition with a transition period between regular bone density and osteoporosis when there's a loss of bone density below what would be normal - but not yet reaching what we would call osteoporosis," said radiologist Dr. Richard Martinez.

Martinez said females are at a greater risk than males to develop this progressive disease.

If you have a family history, dietary disorder, or inactive lifestyle - you should consider having a bone density scan if you are 60 years old.

"We analyze each level to look at the density of the bone at each level," said Martinez.

But, if you have an underlying medical condition or a thin frame, the scan should be done earlier than 60.

With some lifestyle changes, you can actually reverse and halt the loss of bone density.

"Dietary supplements with calcium and vitamin D, weight bearing exercise, for patients who smoke - of course, stopping smoking and limiting alcohol intake," said Martinez.

If these measures aren't taken, your bones are at a greater risk of becoming more thin and brittle.

Wilson will undergo a bone density scan every few years to ensure she stays in check.  Martinez said if she continues to exercise and take her supplements, she's on track to reversing her own bone loss.

If the conservative treatment measures don't work, Martinez said bone-strengthening mediations will be prescribed.