HEALTH MATTERS: New help for old bones

May 2005 
Volume 35  Number 5
Pages 20 - 21
  PDF Version Available!


  • The lives and times of bones

  • Who's at risk?

  • Building bones

  • Standing tall against osteoporosis

  • Drugs that may deplete bone mass



  • Source

  • Graphics

  • Table. Boning up on ...

  • Figure. No caption a...

  • AN OLDER PERSON stooped by age is an image as old as time. So why has osteoporosis suddenly become such a hot topic? Perhaps it's because new diagnostic equipment can now measure it more precisely and better drugs can treat it more effectively. More than 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and 18 million more have low bone mass. In this article, I'll discuss what you need to know about testing, treating, and teaching your patients.

    The lives and times of bones

    Constantly changing, bone is made primarily of collagen embedded in matrix (intercellular elements of bone tissue), which becomes calcified with calcium phosphate. Older bone is continually removed by large cells (osteoclasts) via resorption . New bone is added by osteoblasts in a process called formation . During childhood and adolescence, more bone is added than taken away, making bones bigger, stronger, and denser. Peak bone mass occurs by early adulthood, around the ages of 25 to 35. From ages 35 to 40, resorption of bone outpaces formation, and people in this age range typically begin to lose bone mass.

    A chronic, progressive bone disease, osteoporosis occurs when bone resorption is too fast or formation is too slow. It's categorized as follows:

    * Primary osteoporosis can't be attributed to a secondary cause other than normal changes related to age. Although it primarily affects women ages 45 and older and men older than 60, this category also includes idiopathic juvenile osteoporosis, a rare condition that's ...

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