DXA scans provided to better treat osteoporosis

(WJLA) - Gloria Trumpower, 66, is a ballroom dancer and kayaker. And although she does what she can to keep her bones strong, she broke her arm in April.

"I tripped over my kayak in my backyard and didn't see it at my feet," she says.

Now she’s getting a DXA scan, which is painless and only takes minutes to measure bone density at the hip and spine. It is used to diagnose and track osteoporosis.

"I am petite, I have a family history of osteoporosis, and I'm losing bone at a more rapid rate at this age than I'm building bone."

Dr. Andrea Singer says osteoporosis is a very serious problem, but due to lack of awareness, it is not receiving the attention it desperately deserves.

"There's about an 80-85-percent care gap in the United States in terms of patients getting either a bone density test or diagnostic test," she says.

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is one of three hospitals nationwide taking part in a new study aimed at better identifying and treating osteoporosis.

Doctors there are giving DXA scans to all patients over the age of 50 who suffer a low-trauma fracture.

'There are two million fractures in this country every year, and more than 300,000 of them are hip fractures...25-percent of patients who have a hip fracture will die in the year after having a hip fracture," explains Singer.

Trumpower says she exercises, eats healthy food, and takes bisphosphonates to prevent bone loss – yet she still suffered a fracture. Now, feeling vulnerable, she stresses the importance of focusing on her bone health.

"It's serious -- deadly serious," she warns.

The study will last 15 months, and the goal is to compile evidence that this model of care works and should become the new standard at hospitals nationwide.