Women’s bone density testing: Why it matters

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Strong bones are important in allowing us to do the things we enjoy. They protect our heart, lungs, and brain as well as store important minerals we use. Weak bones can cause pain, loss in height, or the ability to walk and as people age, can make them more susceptible to fractures and breaking.  

Good bone health starts when we are kids and is strengthened with a healthy diet and physical activity; however, over time, for a mix of reasons bones can weaken. A common bone disease for adults is osteoporosis which many people do not know they have until they fracture or break a bone. Screenings help to identify it early so people can take appropriate steps for treatment and lifestyle changes to reduce the likelihood of additional damage.  

The CDC estimates 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men age 50 and over are affected by osteoporosis. 

What is a bone density test? 

Bone density tests are used to detect bone health for diseases such as osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the quality or structure of bones which can lead to a decrease in bone strength and the likelihood of fractures or broken bones. There is a mix of tests.

The Optum mobile clinic uses a handheld ultrasound device on the wrist. This simple scan of the bone takes about three minutes. An ultrasound helps indicate if there is any bone loss, information that can help direct and manage additional care. 

Why is so important?

According to the National Institute of Health, more than 53 million Americans are at risk for bone fractures. Osteoporosis is a silent disease and most adults do not know they have it until they break a bone. While osteoporosis affects women and men of all races and ethnic groups, it is more common in women because they have less bone mass than men and can experience more bone loss during hormonal changes at menopause. There is a mix of risk factors for osteoporosis and they can be different for everyone. Factors may include gender, age, body size, race, family history, change in hormones, diet, medication, other medical conditions, and lifestyle.

Who should have a bone density test? 

There is general consensus that women age 65 and older, and women at risk of the bone disease who are under age 65; however, it may be different for each person. These tests should be used for people who have:

  • Four common factors for at risk include: 
  • A family history,  
  • A personal history of low-trauma fracture after age 45, 
  • Currently smoking cigarettes
  •  Low body weight (under 127 pounds)6   

How does the bone density test on the mobile clinic work? 

It is an easy, fast, painless, and noninvasive test. No preparation is necessary except notify your medical professional if you are pregnant or had a barium exam or had contrast material injected for a CT scan or nuclear medicine test. Contrast materials might interfere with your bone density test.

Inside the Optum mobile clinic.

Optum Care in Utah is proud to present Optum mobile clinic. Your mobile clinic is the first of its kind for Optum members in the Utah market and is a brand new way for you to get care. As an Optum member, you can easily and conveniently complete your general health screenings, including mammograms.

To find out more, visit Optum Mobile Clinic or call 1-855-484-9167.

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