Spectrum Health Increases Efforts Toward Osteoporosis Prevention

The Spectrum Health Osteoporosis Center continues to lead the charge for better bone health in West Michigan and is offering several educational opportunities in recognition of Osteoporosis Awareness Month.

Osteoporosis is the gradual bone loss or thinning that results in weakened bones that are more likely to break with age. Approximately 10 million American men and women have the disease and 34 million more are at risk.

To help increase awareness of this serious bone disease and help people determine their personal risk, the Spectrum Health Osteoporosis Center encourages individuals to take a bone risk assessment tool that can be accessed on its Web site (www.spectrum-health.org/bones).  In addition, the center is hosting two free osteoporosis awareness seminars and an online Web chat during May.

“It’s important to understand the risk factors for osteoporosis,” said Karl C. Roberts, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Spectrum Health and West Michigan Orthopedics. “The disease can strike at any age, but it’s usually seen in men and women over age 50.  In fact, women can lose up to 20 percent of their bone mass in the five to seven years after menopause.”

Other risk factors include:

  • A family history of osteoporosis or fragility fracture
  • Being thin or “small-boned”
  • Being of Caucasian or Asian descent
  • Early menopause (before age 45) or surgically induced menopause
  • Amenorrhea (absence of regular menstrual periods) in pre-menopausal women
  • A low lifetime calcium intake and/or low vitamin D level
  • A low testosterone level in men
  • A low amount of physical activity
  • Excessive caffeine, protein or sodium intake
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use (more than two drinks per day)
  • Use of oral corticosteroids (steroid) therapy for more than three months
  • Conditions such as asthma, lung disease, kidney problems, hormonal problems, kidney stones, liver disease, hyperparathyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, anorexia nervosa or bulimia 

The risk of acquiring the disease can be reduced through diet, exercise and increased calcium, a vital mineral for building healthy bones. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium and is obtained through sunlight, food and supplements.

“People who live in the Midwest, where we don’t get a lot of Vitamin D naturally from the sun, have an even greater risk of acquiring osteoporosis,” said Roberts.

Osteoporosis is often referred to as a “silent disease.”

“Because bone loss occurs without any symptoms or pain, most patients aren’t aware they have this disease until it’s well progressed and they suffer a fragility fracture. These fractures are slow to heal and can cause chronic pain, disability, deformity and even death. That’s why it’s so important for women and men to be alert to their risk for osteoporosis at an early age and take steps to build healthier, stronger bones,” emphasized Roberts.

Spectrum Health Osteoporosis Center awareness events include:

Osteoporosis: Are You at Risk? Free Seminars
Thursday, May 13
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Spectrum Health South Pavilion – Community Room
80 68th Street SE

Wednesday, May 19
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Spectrum Health Healthier Communities – Room 210
665 Seward Avenue NW

Register by calling 616.267.2626, option 4, or 877.495.2626

“Bone Up on Bone Health” Web Chat
Thursday, May 27
12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

The Spectrum Health Osteoporosis Center was established at Blodgett Hospital last fall. The center provides osteoporosis evaluation, diagnosis and treatment based on clinical excellence, the latest research and strong partnerships.

The center features:

  • In-depth assessment to evaluate current bone health and risk for future bone fracture
  • Gold standard technology including dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to measure bone density and conduct vertebral fracture assessment (VFA)
  • Latest treatments following best practice guidelines
  • Personalized care
  • A team approach

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, a collection of eight hospitals and more than 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group, mmpc® and West Michigan Heart-physician groups totaling more than 400 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with nearly 580,000 members. Spectrum Health’s 16,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care. The organization provided $79.4 million in community benefit during its 2009 fiscal year. As a system, Spectrum Health has earned more than 100 awards since it was formed in 1997.