For nearly 10 years, experts have suggested that women over 65 years old receive routine screenings for osteoporosis and recommended additional checks every 2 years. However, a 2 year interval may not be the best solution according to a new study.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine researchers are discovering that women over 66 years old may not need screening for up to 10 years, if they have bone density considered to be “normal.”
The study discovered it takes nearly 16 years for significant changes to occur, meaning a normal range does not require screening every two or three years.
Researchers predicted changes to occur much sooner than 16 years, but explain this as great news for the study and for women in this age group.
The study analyzed information about 5,035 women over the age of 67. Data about bone mineral density was taken originally and then nearly two years after original tests. Each individual received at least two bone mineral density tests, and some were tested five times for up to a total of 15 years.
To analyze the participants, women were grouped based on their BMD T-scores, the comparison of bone density to a health, young adults. Women with a score -2.5 or lower could not participate but received additional treatment.
Four groups were created: High risk, T-scores between -2.49 and -2.00; Medium risk, T-scores between -1.99 and -1.50; Low risk, T-scores between -1.49 and -1.01; Normal, T-scores above -1.00.
Calculated estimates of when a woman in a particular group would develop osteoporosis were: 1 year 3 months for high risk, 5 years for moderate risk, and 16 years for low risk women.
These findings are helpful in determining the potential time it will take for a woman to develop osteoporosis. Doctors can more accurately predict treatment or prevention strategies as well.