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Assessment and hormonal management of osteoporosis.

ABSTRACT

Postmenopausal osteoporosis is a frequent health issue in women. Because osteoporosis-related fractures cause a significant increase in mortality and morbidity, it is clinically important to identify as soon as possible women at increased risk for future fracture so that preventive measures can be instituted. At the beginning of menopause, evaluation of the subsequent risk of fracture is not so easy. Most screening tools fail to accurately identify those women who will fracture within the next 10 years. A history of a prior fracture and low bone mineral density are the only major consistently found predictors for the risk of fracture. On the other hand, it is no longer a question whether menopause hormone therapy is efficient not only to prevent postmenopausal bone loss but also the incidence of fragility fracture. Over the last years, utility of menopause hormone therapy for the prevention of osteoporosis has been questioned due to safety concerns. In light of the most recent reports on a more favorable benefit/risk balance than was initially claimed in early postmenopausal women, this needs to be reconsidered. Prevention of bone loss in those women with a moderate or slightly high risk of fracture is likely a strategy to reduce fracture risk in older women. Menopause hormone therapy must be considered as a true primary preventive therapy more than an anti-fracture therapy at an age when the risk of fracture is likely much lower than later in life. Only thereafter should other anti-osteoporotic medications be discussed in women still at high risk for fracture.