Osteoporosis, defined as low bone mass leading to increased fracture risk, is a major health problem that affects approximately 10 million Americans. The aging U.S. population is predicted to contribute to as much as a 50% increase in prevalence by 2025. Although common, osteoporosis can be clinically silent, and without prevention and screening, the costs of osteoporotic fracture-related morbidity and mortality will burden the U.S. healthcare system. This is a particularly relevant concern in the context of diminishing health care resources. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry is the most widely used, validated technique for measuring bone mineral density (BMD) and diagnosing osteoporosis. Cost-effectiveness analyses support early detection and treatment of high-risk patients with antiresorptive medications such as bisphosphonates. Moreover, optimization of bone health throughout life can help prevent osteoporosis. Current guidelines recommend screening women by age 65 years, but because no guidelines for screening intervals exist, decisions are made on the basis of clinical judgment alone. Although the recent literature provides some guidance, this review further explores current recommendations in light of newer evidence to provide more clarity on prevention, screening, and management strategies for patients with osteoporosis in the primary care setting.
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