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Guidelines for Bone Mineral Density Testing

The National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) has specific guidelines to identify those at risk for osteoporosis.  Postmenopausal women who have had any type of bone fracture should be tested.  The most well established bone mineral density test is dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA scan).  Women over the age of 70 who suffer a fracture can be presumed to have osteoporosis.  Testing for these women helps to establish a baseline.  This can be used to determine how effective the treatment is over time.  The NOF recommends testing for all women older than 65 years old.  Younger postmenopausal women should also be tested if they have one of the following risk factors:

1.    Having a parent or sibling who has suffered an osteoporotic fracture
2.    Being a smoker
3.    Having a low body weight, less than 127 lbs.
4.    Being estrogen deficient (e.g. reaching menopause before age 45 or having premenopausal amenorrhea for longer than one year)
5.    Having had lifelong low calcium intake
6.    Chronic use of steroid medicine (e.g. for asthma or other inflammatory condition)

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