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What is Osteoporosis?

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is osteoporosis?

A. Osteoporosis is a disease in which bone becomes extremely fragile.

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Q. Why do you measure my heel for the osteoporosis risk assessment screening?

A. The heel bone most closely matches that of your hip and it is a weight-bearing bone.

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Q. Will this screening tell me if I have osteoporosis?

A. Osteoporosis is a complex disorder, and no single risk factor should be used for diagnosis. Your physician will use your bone mineral density measurement along with your other clinical risk factors (gender, age, fracture history, family history, medications, smoking, exercise, calcium intake, and general health status) as an aid in deciding if you should have a DEXA scan—the gold standard in the diagnosis of osteoporosis.

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Q. Why should I have the Life Line Screening osteoporosis risk assessment? Shouldn't I just get a DEXA scan?

A. If you are among the 50% of those we screen who are at low risk for bone diminishment, you will not need a DEXA scan. Our screening is a much lower-cost, radiation-free, logical first step in helping you identify your risk for osteoporosis.

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Q. How accurate is the Life Line Screening osteoporosis risk assessment?

A. It is approximately 90% accurate. Since we are screening your heel and not your hip, and since osteoporosis is not uniform throughout the body, false positives may occur.

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Q. Are there clinical studies showing that ultrasound bone densitometers that measure the heel are accurate enough to benefit me?

A. Yes. The National Osteoporosis Risk Assessment (NORA) Study, published December 12, 2001, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, assessed osteoporosis in 200,000 postmenopausal women using peripheral bone densitometers including the model used by Life Line Screening. The authors concluded that, while osteoporosis and low bone mass are reaching epidemic proportions, the conditions remain largely under-diagnosed. Because DEXA is an expensive and limited option for many, ultrasound remains an effective and practical screening tool for the population at large.

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Q. Is your osteoporosis screening equipment FDA-approved?

A. Yes. Our ultrasound bone densitometers have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the same way drugs are approved, with specific indications for use. The Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the FDA approved the use of this devise to: "perform a quantitative ultrasound measurement of the calcaneus (heel bone), the results of which can be used in conjunction with other clinical risk factors as an aid to the physician in the diagnosis of osteoporosis and medical conditions leading to reduced bone density, and ultimately in the determination of fracture risk."

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Q. If I have already had a DEXA scan and have been on medication, should I have the Life Line Screening osteoporosis risk assessment to see if I have improved my bone density?

A. No. Our screening device is not FDA-approved to monitor your response to therapy. You should ask your physician about having another DEXA scan.

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Q. How will my doctor use the information from the Life Line Screening osteoporosis risk assessment?

A. If our osteoporosis screening finds you are at risk for osteoporosis, your physician may recommend dietary and lifestyle changes, schedule a DEXA scan, or even prescribe a drug therapy to increase your bone density.

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