Study Looks At Osteoporosis In Hispanic Women

Armen Hareyan's picture
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While working as a volunteer in Ohio State University Medical Center's Clinica Latina, Kevin Evans saw an opportunity to improve the health of many of the underserved Latino and Hispanic women who visited the medical clinic.

Evans, director of radiologic sciences and therapy in Ohio State's School of Allied Medical Professions, saw osteoporosis as a recurring problem in many of the women due to their diet and other risk factors.

"These women have no regular health care, very limited access to educational resources and subsequently a very high risk for osteoporosis at an early age," Evans said. "The medical community doesn't really know much about osteoporosis in Hispanic women, because most studies conducted in this field have been completed with Caucasian women."

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Evans initiated a study that measured the knowledge Hispanic women have about osteoporosis and risk factors for the debilitating disease, which causes bones to become very brittle and likely to break. "Survey research documented a high desire on the part of the participants to implement health behavior change, but a low understanding of the disease itself," Evans said.

In the second phase of the study, Evans and his team used ultrasound to measure bone density in the heels of participants. "Using ultrasound, we can get quick measurements of the bone density in the heel for diagnostic and comparison purposes," added Evans.

Evans and his team plan to provide patients with calcium supplements while continuing to monitor heel density measurements. In addition, participants will be counseled and provided educational resources to help increase awareness of the diseases.

The study is focusing on women who are pre-menopausal. "We want to increase the bone density of younger women at an early stage while they are still forming bone mass," he said. "If we get the bone to maintain a healthy density, by the time they reach menopause -- a period when osteoporosis becomes a much more imminent danger -- they automatically won't be at a higher level of risk than anyone else for falling down and breaking a bone.

"The innovative piece of what we are doing is we're looking at this lifestyle and saying, 'Why wait until someone has irreversible changes? Let's start at the beginning.'"

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