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New Guidelines For Osteoporosis Screening

New guidelines are being drawn up that aim to treat osteoporosis as aggressively as heart attacks. A new article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says that “fragility fractures”, which constitute eighty percent of all fractures in women over the age of fifty years old, need to be treated to prevent reoccurrences.

“People don’t think anything can be done once you’ve had a fracture,” notes Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou, a professor of medicine at Hamilton’s McMaster University’s division of geriatric medicine, who also co-wrote the new guidelines. “People don’t realize that once you’ve had a fracture you’re at much higher risk of having another fracture – it’s two to ten times higher.”

Exercise, calcium and vitamin D can all help those at risk of fragility fractures, but there are also Canadian drug therapies aimed at those with the greatest chance of suffering fractures. Bisphosphonates are one of the leading Canadian drugs to treat osteoporosis, with almost seven and a half million prescriptions being filled by Canadian pharmacies last year, pulling in more than three hundred and ninety one million dollars according to prescription Canadian drugs tracking firm IMS Health Canada. Unfortunately, bisphosphonates, which are widely available from Canadian pharmacies, carry their own risk, including a higher chance of stroke, among other potential side effects, and some critics say there are too many people using them, including many who don’t really need to. “The more people are exposed to these drugs, the higher the chance of seeing these adverse events,” says Dr. Mahyar Etminan of the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluation and the department of medicine at the University of British Columbia.

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