JoAnn spends every weekend she can hiking. She’s trekked the Grand Canyon five times and explored hiking trails throughout Arizona. That’s why she was surprised when a bone density scan revealed she had osteoporosis, a condition that causes bone loss and can lead to fractures.
“I was running, hiking, walking and eating high-calcium foods and I still had bone loss,” she said.
JoAnn is among 54 million Americans who have osteoporosis and low bone mass, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF). To help Yavapai County residents, the BreastCare Center at Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) has introduced dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). This simple, painless exam measures bone density.
“DXA provides information so a woman and her physician can take steps to prevent fractures,” said Mary Sterling, Director, Imaging Services at YRMC. “It’s similar to a mammogram in that the radiation dose is very minimal and the information is extremely important.”
During a DXA exam at YRMC’s BreastCare Center, the patient lies flat on a comfortable, padded table. An x-ray generator is located below the patient and an imaging device, or detector, is positioned above. The detector passes over the patient, generating images on a computer monitor. The exam lasts approximately 10 minutes. The radiologist interprets the exam and then shares the results with the patient’s doctor.
“We’re encouraging women to schedule their mammogram and DXA on the same day,” said Sterling. “It’s convenient and a good way to ensure you’re undergoing both of these important exams.”
This also allows women to undergo DXA in the spa-like, comforting atmosphere of the YRMC BreastCare Center. Additionally, women are often cared for by the same radiologic technologist during both exams. While it’s most often associated with women, men also should be aware of the dangers of bone loss and osteoporosis. In fact, according to NOF, a man age 50 or older is more likely to suffer a broken bone due to osteoporosis than he is to get prostate cancer.
What puts people at risk for osteoporosis? Uncontrollable risk factors include:
- Being over age 50 and female
- Menopause, particularly early-onset menopause
- A family history of osteoporosis
- Being small and thin
- Broken bones or height loss
Controllable risk factors for osteoporosis include:
- Lack of calcium and vitamin D
- Not eating enough fruits and vegetables and consuming too much protein, sodium and caffeine
- Lack of exercise and activity
- Tobacco use and drinking too much alcohol
- Weight loss
Want to schedule a DXA? Contact your physician to ask for a referral to the BreastCare Center at YRMC. For more information about other BreastCare Center at YRMC services, visit us at yrmc.org/services/breastcare-center or contact (928) 442-8900.