Northwest NEWS

March 27, 2000

Home & Garden

Osteoporosis screenings offered to check bone density

osteoporosis screening

Larry Crotts (left), of NW Osteoporosis Screening, tests Woodinville Weekly ad representative Swend Trefethen (right) for his bone density. The test took three minutes and Swend, 72, had a T-score of -.7, which is close to normal for his group, but slightly below. "I'm going to do more exercise and increase my calicum intake," said Swend, who is going to have his bone density checked yearly to see if his changes in diet and exercise increase his density reading. In the background, Dick Brown and Barbara Grube of the Weekly staff await their turns.

by Carol Edwards

   How is your skeleton? Are your bones strong and healthy? These are questions that are hard to answer.

   The reality is that all people, especially women, are at risk for osteoporosis, an invisible condition (except to x-rays) of thinning and weakening of the body's bones. The condition can lead to fractures. The results are visible as spine fractures and linked to height loss, chronic back pain, and the curving of the spine.

   Beginning Thursday, April 6, and every Thursday thereafter, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., bone density screenings will be available by appointment, or drop in, at Lakeside Drug in Redmond. The store is located at 15840 Redmond Way. The phone number is 425-885-2323.

   "Osteoporosis is a painful, disfiguring, and disabling disease affecting millions of Americans. Sixty percent of females and 13% of men are at risk. The most intriguing fact about osteoporosis is that it is 100% preventable. My goal is that everyone at risk has the opportunity to be identified and informed of what can be done to correct this disease," said Larry Crotts of NW Osteoporosis Screening. His company will be doing the onsite screenings at Lakeside Drugs.

   "There are no reliable early warning signs of osteoporosis. A fracture is often the first sign that bone loss has occurred. But osteoporosis is detectable, preventable, and treatable," he said. Crotts explained that some hip fractures attributed to falling are actually a result of the bone fracturing while the person is standing, causing them to fall.

   Crotts visited the Woodinville Weekly offices with his mobile Norland Apollo DXA Bone Densitometry System, which consists of a bone scanning machine, a control console, computer, and inkjet printer. Thirteen staff members were tested on the small, portable machine. Each person put their stocking foot in a small recess in the scanner, and after Crotts entered their age and scanned their heel, the conclusions were printed out and given to each person. A T-Score was given, which showed the number of deviations of the bone density reading from the peak bone mass for gender, ethnic background, and age.

   The result was that the Woodinville Weekly sample fit the national average, with six people above the risk factor, one person in the middle, and six people at risk. Interestingly, some younger people were at greater risk, while some older people were in the normal or very good range.

   "The exam is performed by doing a background x-ray of the person's heel. Printouts of individual scan results are provided for each person to give to their physician. An experienced technician with NW Osteoporosis Screening performs the exam, and will answer any questions. The introductory charge is just $40.00 through the month of May," said Crotts.

   According to Crotts, the patient exposure to x-ray radiation with his equipment is less than 0.2mREM, which is less than the radiation exposure received during an average day outdoors for most people, and is limited to the heel area only.

   Crotts has information from the National Osteoporois Foundation which alerts people to the comprehensive program for prevention. It includes Vitamin D for calcium absorption, with is gained through exposure to the sun for fifteen minutes or through diet. An intake of between 400-800 IU is recommended and found in fortified dairy products, egg yokes, saltwater fish, live and supplements. More than 800 IU per day may be harmful. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking, hiking, jogging, stair-climbing, tennis, and/or dancing are recommended. The goal is 30 minutes to an hour, four times a week.

   The foundation lists risk factors that increase the likelihood of having osteoporosis. They are: being female; thin and/or small frame; advanced age; family history; postmenopause; absence of periods; anorexia nervosa or bulimia; a diet low in calcium; certain medications, such as corticosteroids and anticonvulsants; low testosterone levels in men; an inactive lifestyle; cigarette smoking; excessive use of alchohol; being Caucasian or Asian, although African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are at significant risk, as well.

   "Learning if you are at risk for osteoporosis, and taking corrective action now, will give you the best chance of living a long and healthy life without the fear of bone fracture or disfigurement," Crotts added.