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Abstract

Purpose: Osteoporosis is a major public health concern that affects millions of women around the world. Although the diagnosis of osteoporosis greatly impacts the life of the patient, the health care cost associated with the sequelae of the disease process is exponentially greater. Commonly recognized as a disease of the old, osteoporosis is generally discovered in older age, but it is the result of many factors—both modifiable and non-modifiable—that impact bone strength beginning in childhood. This article discusses how the choices that a woman makes in her younger years can greatly impact her risk of developing osteoporosis. Methods: To collect and analyze information regarding risk factors for osteoporosis in young women, an extensive literature review was conducted. MEDLINE and various educational sites including DynaMed, National Osteoporosis Foundation, and American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology were searched. Many articles were found from 1998 and newer. Results: It can be seen that the pathogenesis of osteoporosis culminates in the later years of a woman’s life, but it is the actions throughout the lifetime that lead to the development of osteoporosis. Therefore, it is imperative that health care providers, especially physician assistants and nurse practitioners, understand the factors that put patients at risk, recognize when those factors are present, and provide ways in which one can decrease or completely prevent the disease in young patients. Conclusion: Although the focus of osteoporosis has always been treatment in older women, it is necessary now to shift the focus of osteoporosis to prevention in younger women. By educating patients about the risk factors that are present and gaining awareness that development begins during childhood, providers and patients can work together towards prevention. The mnemonic “Use L.O.G.I.C. against risk factors for a L.I.F.E. of prevention!” was created as an easy way for mid-level providers to educate patients today, to recognize potential risk in a younger woman, and to work to completely prevent the development of the disease. The goal is to eradicate osteoporosis and to make this preventable disease a disease of the past.

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