That must change, said Bridgeport Hospital Chief of Rheumatology Dr. Germano Guadagnoli, because the effects of osteoporosis fractures can be so devastating.
"We want to prevent that first fracture," said Guadagnoli
, who spoke during the seminar."Preventing the first fracture, for us, is that same as a cardiologist preventing that first heart attack."
Stopping the fracture usually involves a combination of lifestyle change and medication, if necessary.For instance, said Guadagnoli
in an interview following the seminar, with someone like Curry, he
would have check to see if she
was a smoker, a drinker, on any type of medication that might make her
susceptible to the disease.He
also might suggest that she
add more calcium and vitamin D to her
diet."All these things would be things to consider," he
If necessary, Guadagnoli also might put her
on medication for osteoporosis, such as the bisphosphonate Fosamax.
The importance of identifying osteoporosis cases was a topic of last week's seminar, as was the vulnerability of men to what is predominantly considered a female disease.
According to Guadagnoli
, 10 million people have osteoporosis, and 14 to 18 million more have low bone density.However, only about a third of osteoporosis cases are diagnosed, and only one-seventh are treated.
But, despite the prevalence of the disease in women, men also are susceptible to it, and its effects on them have often been overlooked, Guadagnoli
said.Though 80 percent of osteoporosis cases occur in women and only 20 percent occur in men, that is still a significant amount, said Guadagnoli
in an interview following the seminar.
"Twenty percent of 10 million [the amount of people with osteoporosis] is two million," he
said."That's a lot of people."
Unlike women, men don't lose bone mass quickly after a certain point.Whereas women lose between 1.5 to 5 percent of their bone mass every year following menopause which can occur as early as their 40s and 50s men only lose about 1 percent every year.Also, bone loss doesn't start in men until their 60s, Guadagnoli
said.In spite of that fact that men are affected by osteoporosis, most of the data on the disease has, in the past, focused primarily on white women.Guadagnoli
said that's changing, as health databases are adding more information on men and other ethnic groups.
There was a sprinkling of men at the seminar, such as Mary Curry's husband John, who went with her
to offer support.John said he
didn't have major concerns about osteoporosis.
said that, although women should generally get screened after menopause that rule obviously doesn't apply to men.There are some guidelines, however.For instance, he
said, any man older than 70 should have a screening, as should those who are heavy drinkers and smokers and those with hypogonadism (or reduced secretion of hormones from the sex glands).
If diagnosed, men are treated in a similar way to women, through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, Fosamax (the only bisphosphonate approved for use in men, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation).Guadagnoli
said diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis in both genders must improve."We've got to be more aggressive in identifying those people at risk," he