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Bone Mineral Density Tests (cont.)

Who Should Have a Bone Mineral Density Test?

Risk Factors for Osteoporosis

Certain factors are associated with an increased risk of developing osteoporosis (see Prevention of Osteoporosis). Take a one-minute osteoporosis risk test from the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

If a person has any of these risk factors or other signs of osteoporosis, a doctor may recommend that bone mass is measured. Risk factors for osteoporosis include the following:

Current Recommendations

According to current recommendations in the United States by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the following individuals should have a bone mineral density test:

  • All women 65 years and older, regardless of risk factors
  • Younger postmenopausal women who have one or more risk factors (other than being white, postmenopausal, and female)
  • Postmenopausal women who present with fractures (to confirm the diagnosis and determine disease severity)

Medicare and Bone Mineral Density Testing

  • Medicare covers bone mineral density testing for the following individuals 65 years and older:
    • Women with low estrogen levels who have risk factors for osteoporosis
    • Men and women with abnormalities of the spine (vertebral abnormalities)
    • Men and women who are receiving (or are going to receive) long-term steroid (glucocorticoid) therapy
    • Individuals with primary hyperparathyroidism
    • Men and women on drug therapy for osteoporosis who are being monitored to determine the effectiveness of the drug therapy
  • Medicare permits individuals to repeat bone mineral density testing every two years.
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