Lions teach about bone density

West Bay residents who attended the recent Lions Club of Tropical Gardens Osteoporosis Awareness meeting now know a bit more about bone density.

Dr. Komal Lawrence of Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital defined osteoporosis, explained how this disease is diagnosed and what treatment options are available.

She explained that the bones of a person’s body consist of a thick outer shell and a strong inner mesh filled with collagen, calcium salts and minerals.

She said osteoporosis is characterised by low bone mass, micro architectural disruption and skeletal fragility, resulting in decreased bone strength and an increased risk of fracture. Some of these risk factors were non-modifiable such as race, advanced age, premature menopause, family history and female gender.

However, there were modifiable factors such as cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, inactivity, low body weight, prolonged immobilisation and steroid use. These modifiable risk factors if controlled, she said, could assist in preventing this debilitating disease.

Ms Lawrence told the audience that a bone density test can determine if an individual has osteoporosis or if he/she is at risk of developing osteoporosis before any bones are broken.

She told them that the DXA Scanner was the most useful and reliable bone density test. It provides precise measurements of bone density at important bone sites- lumbar spine, hip, forearm.

She explained that the test is non-invasive, requires no specific preparation, radiation exposure is minimal and the procedure is rapid- usually takes 20 to 40 minutes. This machine, she said was now available for use at the Chrissie Tomlinson Hospital.

Samantha Conolly, pharmacist at HSA, provided vital information on the prescription drugs used to treat and prevent osteoporosis.

She focussed on anti-resorptive medication used to stop the breakdown of calcium from the bone and bone forming medication.

Her presentation was very interactive as members from the audience using some of these medications were able to attest to the instructions and precautions of using some of these medications.

“We cannot feel our bones getting stronger while we are taking medications for treatment and prevention of osteoporosis,’ Ms Conolly said.

She added that a favourable response to treatment is when bone mineral density (checked with a bone density test) either remains stable or improves and no fractures occur.

She told the audience that usually treatment is long term and it is always best to check with their doctor or pharmacist before starting any treatment.

To culminate the presentations, nutritionist Bethany Smith emphasised choosing a healthier lifestyle as a preventative measure to ward off osteoporosis. Her presentation included the use of food models to demonstrate ways to include calcium rich foods in our diet.

She told the audience that, on average, people under 50 years of age need 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily while those over 50 will need 1,200 milligrams to ensure that their bodies remain strong.

She said that there were no gold supplements for calcium, and it is recommended that an individual takes the supplement that will meet his or her needs as calcium will slow bone loss and reduce fractures.

A question and answer session followed the presentations. The audience made use of this time to seek answers to other pertinent issues related to diet and nutrition, medication and bone structure.

Lion Zone chairman, Walton Gooding presented the guest speakers with certificates of appreciation and praised the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens for starting and continuing this much-needed awareness campaign. Lion Paulette Conolly-Bailey gave the vote of thanks.

The 27 August evening ended with the club handing out 22 bone density test vouchers to qualifying members of the audience. The club will continue the awareness campaign visiting the other districts during this lionistic year.