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Osteoporosis Screening: An Unmet Medical Necessity

ArnaudPhysicians have identified only 30% of the US residents who have osteoporosis. While these patients have been screened for bone loss and have had the opportunity to be treated, the remaining 70% with osteoporosis are living with the serious threat of hip or spine fracture and possible long-term disability or death.

This is an unacceptable level of medical care that has a simple solution. Women over 65 and men over 70 years are at high risk for osteoporosis that requires treatment. They need to be screened by DXA for osteoporosis and offered treatment. For people in these age groups, screening for osteoporosis is a free benefit provided through Medicare. Unfortunately, large numbers of Medicare recipients cannot easily take advantage of this benefit because the balance of DXA machines overwhelmingly favor cities, requiring people in many rural areas to travel 10 or more miles to obtain an adequate bone mineral density measurement.  However, it is worth the effort.

American Bone Health strongly recommends that you speak to your doctor about getting a bone density test (spine and hip DXA) if you are a woman of 65 years or older, or a man of 70 years or older.

Claude D. Arnaud, MD, FACE
President, Medical and Scientific Advisory Board & Member Board of Directors
Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Physiology
University of California, San Francisco

References:
1. Curtis, Jeffrey, et.al. Bridging the Osteoporosis Quality Chasm, JBMR Vol 24, No1, 2009.
2. Curtis, Jeffrey et.al. The geographic availability and associated utilization of DXA BMD testing among older persons in the United States. Osteoporosis Int 20(9):1553-1561. 2009.