Women more frequently affected
As the Leipzig orthopedist explains, every person loses bone mass increasingly at an advanced age. This can cause osteoporosis. The fact that above all women suffer from this bone loss is due to the postmenopause: after the menopause, significantly less estrogen is produced, so that a building block for bone formation is missing and the bones become brittle. In men, in turn, the sex hormone (in this case testosterone) is also important for bone metabolism. However, because there is no abrupt drop in testosterone production, osteoporosis is less common in men than in women.
Every year more than 800,000 people in Germany contract osteoporosis (also known as bone loss). “At the same time, the number of diseases is constantly increasing,” explains Prof. Dr. Christoph-E. Heyde, Managing Director of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Orthopedics, Trauma Surgery and Plastic Surgery at the University Hospital Leipzig, in a press release. “This development shows us the advantages and disadvantages of the progress in medicine: On the one hand, people are getting older and older, and on the other hand, the risk of contracting a disease associated with old age increases. Because osteoporosis affects older people in particular”.
According to experts, osteoporosis is the most common disease of the skeletal system. The disease mainly affects people at a higher age (women more often than men). In Germany alone, about five to six million people are affected. The disease can be prevented by proper nutrition and sufficient exercise.
Disease does not cause any complaints at first
“Osteoporosis is a creeping disease that does not cause any symptoms at first,” explains Prof. Heyde. “But it is also dangerous. There is an increased incidence of bone fractures – of vertebral bodies, the neck of the femur or even the wrist. This in turn not only restricts the mobility and independence of those affected, but can also have consequences up to death if complications arise.
“For example, today’s medications can not only stop the breakdown of bone, but can also stimulate new bone formation. And with special implants that better distribute the forces acting on the bone, we can help many patients from the spine to the thigh to the forearm.
Before such fractures occur, however, those affected often notice that they become smaller and walk more crookedly. Then a doctor should be consulted, because if osteoporosis remains undetected, it progresses further and further. “Much has improved with the treatment. Today, we have the highest level of medical and surgical options, and the disease is no longer an unchangeable fate,” emphasizes the physician.
According to the osteoporosis self-help groups umbrella organization (OSD) approximately 80 per cent of the population in Germany show a too low Vitamin mirror in the blood. The most important source for Vitamin D is the sunlight on our skin. Therefore it is guessed/advised to stay daily about 30 minutes outside. Natural food sources are limited. According to the OSD, larger quantities are only found in fatty fish – such as salmon, eel, mackerel or herring. It may be necessary to take food supplements – but only on medical advice.
The orthopedist and trauma surgeon strongly advises older people in particular to take preventive measures against osteoporosis. “A good muscle status can still be achieved at 70. And this protects and trains the bones. So: lots of exercise in the fresh air. Furthermore, I advise a balanced diet as well as abstaining from nicotine and too much alcohol. The vitamin D level should also be checked by your family doctor,” says Prof. Heyde.
Calcium is also important. According to Prof. Heyde, if you eat a varied diet with a measured amount of meat, cereal products, fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy products, you do not need an additional supply of calcium for your bones. People who follow a vegan diet and do not consume dairy products need to be careful, but get good calcium from fruit and vegetables, the physician explains. Also Soja products are favorable for the bone metabolism. (ad)
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