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Overlooked Link Between Stroke and Osteoporosis

by Guest Blogger
Physiotherapist giving back massage to senior patient

Did you know stroke is a risk factor for falls, fractures, and even osteoporosis?

It’s true! Research shows you’re 4x more likely to suffer a fracture in the year after a stroke than your average person.

And another study found patients lost up to 14% hip bone density in the year after stroke!

Now, if you think about it, this makes sense. After a stroke, you may have difficulty moving around. You may favor one leg. Struggle with your balance. You probably won’t get right back on your regular exercise schedule…

And the less you move, the more your bone density pays the price.

So, you’d think screening for osteoporosis would be a logical part of post-stroke medical procedures, right? Sadly, it’s not.

Surprising Lack of Osteoporosis Screening After Stroke

A recent study looked at a sample of 16,581 patients aged 65+ from the Ontario Stroke Registry. Researchers investigated how many of these patients were screened for bone loss within a year of suffering a stroke.

The researchers found that just 845 people out of 16,581 were screened for bone mineral density post-stroke. That’s only 5% of patients!

And the stats were even worse for patients who’d never had a DEXA scan before— only 2.9% underwent screening.

What’s more, whether someone fractured a bone in the past didn’t affect their likelihood of getting a bone scan. That’s concerning because once you’ve broken a bone, your risk of breaking another bone goes up. And research tells us fractures lead to increased bone loss

Yet, fracture history wasn’t a consideration for post-stroke bone density screening.

This isn’t an isolated issue either.

Experts estimate osteoporosis screening rates are below 27% in the general population for older American women. But screening post-stroke may be particularly low because few people recognize osteoporosis can be a consequence of stroke.

The US stroke guidelines do include osteoporosis as a complication, but they don’t provide any recommendations for testing or treatment— they just include fall prevention strategies.

Of course, fall prevention is important. (You can find a comprehensive fall prevention checklist here!)

But just sharing fall prevention strategies is like slapping a band-aid on a problem and hoping it doesn’t fall off…

The better course of action is to address the root cause of the problem. And you need to be aware of a problem in order to address it— which is why bone density screening post-stroke is so important!

That way, you can take measures to increase your bone density, reduce your risk of fracture, and avoid a fall.

So if you or someone you know suffers a stroke, make sure you ask for a bone density scan and monitor for osteoporosis in the years to come! Visit this page for a helpful guide to bone density scans.

By Dean Neuls

Dean Neuls is the Co-Founder and CEO of AlgaeCal. He is a natural health author and student of bone health science who is passionate about helping people & bettering lives.


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