Pharmacotherapeutics for Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment

Authors

  • Michele R. Davidson CNM, PhD

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    • Michele Davidson, CNM, PhD, is an assistant professor at George Mason University College of Nursing and Health Science. She practices full-scope nurse-midwifery at Women's Healthcare Associates of Loudoun in Landsdowne, Virginia.


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Abstract

Osteoporosis is a silent disease that affects 10 million Americans; 80% of those affected are women. Although the disease is more common in postmenopausal Caucasian women, all ages and races are at risk. Osteoporosis can be a debilitating disease that can cause pain, fractures, depression, and social withdrawal. Signs of osteoporosis include kyphosis, loss of height, and protrusion of the abdomen. Because symptoms generally do not occur until after the disease has progressed, clinicians should include osteoporosis screening and preventative education as part of the regular gynecologic care. Diagnosis is typically made by a dual energy x-ray absorpitometry (DEXA) scan. Treatment consists of dietary and lifestyle changes, along with pharmacologic intervention. Although hormone therapy has been shown to be effective in preventing osteoporosis, the risks of long-term treatment with HRT are discussed. The following effective treatment options for women who have been diagnosed with the disease are discussed: bisphosphonates, calcitonin, and selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs). Because midwives regularly care for women of all ages, they are ideal candidates to provide women with preventative education, screening, counseling, and treatment.

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