GOUVERNEUR -- Men and women over age 50 who are thinking of starting an exercise program should think about their bone strength first, according to nurse practitioner Laurie Brown of the Edwards Health Clinic, operated by Gouverneur Hospital.
“Bones can weaken as we age, and they can also be affected by a lack of Vitamin D,” Brown said. “To engage in the activities we love during the summer like hiking, biking, trail riding, and gardening, strong bones are essential,” she said.
Brown said a bone density test is recommended for post-menopausal women who have certain risk factors for osteoporosis, for all women over age 65, and for men over 70. Tests should be done earlier if a man has certain risk factors; risk factors for both men and women include breaking a bone after age 50.
“Gouverneur Hospital’s imaging department has staff trained in bone density testing and they have modern equipment,” said Brown.
Bone density testing is non-invasive and painless. The patient lies on a table as the machine captures images of the bones. The test usually takes approximately 15 minutes.
“My patients can receive lower back and hip screening. Extremity scanning can be done on those who are unable to lie down,” she said.
She also recommends screening for vitamin D deficiency through lab testing. She says vitamin D is made in the body through exposure to sunlight and is available to the body through some foods, like fish.
“Vitamin D helps bones use calcium,” said Brown. “I recommend laboratory testing for vitamin D levels as well as other tests that will tell me if a patient may have problems that could lead to bone loss and broken bones,” she said.
It is one of the ingredients for strong bones, along with calcium and Vitamin K, found in leafy greens that can be deficient if a patient has a poor diet.
“After this really long winter we’ve had, I know my patients are going to go out and really enjoy the summer and I want them to be prepared to have fun,” added Brown.
For more information about bone densitometry or laboratory testing for bone health, interested individuals should contact their primary care practitioner or the Gouverneur Hospital at 287-1000.