Expanding Diagnosis of Osteoporosis Could Save Many from Experiencing the Worst of this Disease says Expert Mercy Health Physician Nelson Watts, MD

(CINCINNATI; May 20, 2014) – Mercy Health, which provides advanced, compassionate, quality care in your neighborhood through its care network, announces that internationally renowned osteoporosis expert and Mercy Health Physician Nelson Watts, MD recommends expanding the diagnosis of osteoporosis to potentially spare tens of thousands of men and women from the worst of the disease.

Dr. Watts sits on the National Bone Health Alliance (NBHA) Clinical Diagnosis of Osteoporosis Working Group, which includes 16 clinicians and clinical scientists who are working to determine the appropriate expansion of the criteria used to diagnose osteoporosis. He was an author of the position paper recommending the expansion of the criteria under which a doctor diagnoses osteoporosis to include all post-menopausal women and men age 50+ who are at extra risk for bone fractures.

“We know that we don’t test for or treat osteoporosis in almost 80 percent of older Americans who break a bone. A majority of patients who land in the hospital following a fracture go home without being tested or treated for osteoporosis, the disease that probably led to the fracture,” says Dr. Watts. “If we can identify people at risk for broken bones, we can prevent future breaks through osteoporosis treatment, sparing the patient pain and suffering and saving the vast sums we spend to treat breaks today.”

According to the NBHA, osteoporosis, a disease that leads to a weakening of the bones, is responsible for as many as two million broken bones annually. In the United States alone, we spend more than $19 billion each year to treat these fractures, a cost that’s likely to reach more than $25 billion by 2025.

Today in the U.S., doctors diagnose post-menopausal women and older men with osteoporosis based on their T-score, which is a bone mineral density measurement.

“T-scores are a good indicator of osteoporosis and we should keep doing bone mineral density testing,” says Watts. “In order to help other women and men at risk for osteoporosis, we recommend that also we diagnose osteoporosis in men and women who have fractured a hip, pelvis and/or wrist or who have low bone mass together with a spinal fracture. Suffering any of these breaks following a minimal trauma is a strong indicator that the person is a high risk for future fractures.”

“We also recommend diagnosing osteoporosis in men and women who have low bone mass and who have an elevated fracture risk assessment in the next 10 years based on the World Health Organization Fracture Risk Assessment Tool, known as FRAX,” added Watts. “With an expanded set of diagnostic criteria, we can start to close the gap that sees 80% of patients undiagnosed and untreated.”

Dr. Watts practices at Mercy Health - Osteoporosis and Bone Health Services, located at 4760 East Galbraith Road, Suite 212 in Kenwood, ZIP 45236. To find out more about Dr. Watts or to schedule an appointment with him, please call 513-686-2663.

To find a Mercy Health physician in your neighborhood, or to learn about the services provided at Mercy Health, please visit e-mercy.com/physicians.asp or call 513-981-2222.