Dr. Siris describes osteopenia.
Osteopenia is really a terrible term that is trying to reflect having low bone mass that by bone density testing is not yet low enough to call osteoporosis. Osteopenia is not a disease, it’s a risk factor and it’s an important risk factor. It really reflects that you don’t have an optimal amount of bone, that you have a lower than optimal amount of bone and it’s a fairly wide range of being lower. If you’re minimally osteopenic it’s not really too critical but if your osteopenia is low enough that it’s in that –2 to –2.5 range it maybe a significant risk factor.
Also very importantly, if you’re in your early 50s and you have osteopenia you’re at lower risk for fractures over the next ten years than if you’re 65 or 70 and you have the same level of osteopenia because it reflects slightly different things depending on how long you’ve been post-menopausal. So today it’s really a risk factor that we take seriously for future fracture risk.
About Dr. Ethel Siris, M.D.:
Dr. Ethel S. Siris is the Director at the Toni Stabile Osteoporosis Center, Columbia University, is the Madeline C. Stabile Professor of Medicine at Columbia University, and is the immediate past-President for the National Osteoporosis Foundation. She is board certified in endocrinology and internal medicine, focusing on osteoporosis, metabolic bone disease, and bone and mineral metabolism.