Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which there is a decrease in bone mass density that leads to greater bone fragility, even spontaneously occurring fractures, without a previous blow or impact. Painless and asymptomatic, it is a pathology of difficult early diagnosis, being identified in most cases when a fracture has already occurred.
To fight against this scenario, from the Rheumatology Service of the General University Hospital of Villalba, belonging to the public health network of the Community of Madrid, they insist that leading a healthy life, with a balanced diet and physical exercise, can help prevent and delay its appearance.
“Some of the main causes linked to osteoporosis cannot be modified, such as age, which is associated with an inevitable loss of bone quality, or gender, since this disease is more frequent in women for a hormonal reason, especially from menopause, which causes accelerated bone loss ”, explains Dr. Almudena Román, a specialist in the aforementioned service.
However, he adds, there are behaviors and habits that are in our power to prevent their appearance and prevent their development, modifying and taking care of our lifestyle.
Thus, it is essential to lead a healthy life, eliminating toxins such as tobacco or alcohol, since “it is known that smokers are at greater risk” of developing osteoporosis, says the rheumatologist; but also maintain a balanced diet, in the style of the Mediterranean diet.
“The recommended is an intake of 1 gram of calcium daily,” said Dr. Román, who clarified that, contrary to popular belief, which identifies milk and its derivatives as the main source of calcium, there are many other foods that have a great supply of calcium and can provide us with the necessary amount for proper bone health: vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli or chard; legumes, such as chickpeas; fish or nuts, such as almonds or walnuts.
In addition, it is important to take care of vitamin D levels with adequate sun exposure – “ten minutes of daily walk is enough to achieve optimal levels of this vitamin,” he pointed out – lead an active life and exercise regularly. “It does not have to be an intense exercise nor is it necessary to go to the gym,” said the rheumatologist from the Villalbino hospital.
And he added that “one of the most beneficial activities for bone generation is something as simple as walking.”
And it is that “the bone is alive; it is constantly being formed and destroyed, and walking is the main stimulus for its formation, ”he insisted.
However, the fact that osteoporosis is a painless and asymptomatic disease means that it is often identified when it is too late and a fracture has occurred.
“The ideal thing would be to be able to identify which patient is at risk and try to prevent it from developing,” said Dr. Román.
To do this, in the event of a fall with a fracture, he recommends carrying out a complete study, and -although he acknowledges the difficulty of this strategy- in those patients who take a drug that can promote osteoporosis, be especially vigilant.
“Now the doctors are very aware and when there is a patient at risk in Primary Care they refer them to us for a complete evaluation,” he said.
The specialists handle three basic tests: the analytical to know the values of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium or hormones that indicate how the bone is; densitometry to calculate the amount of bone in the patient; and radiology to identify fractures that may go unnoticed, especially in the back.
Advances in rheumatology
1. “Rheumatology has come a long way in recent years. With the new treatments, we can stop the loss of bone mass ”, clarified Román.
2. “We can even win it, but it requires periodic monitoring and sustained over time to achieve the desired results,” added the doctor.
3. “There are drugs that are responsible for stopping the destruction of the bone and others that deal with its formation, which can be combined depending on the patient.”
4. “This combination can be safe and effective to have a better quality bone and thus reduce the appearance of new fractures.”