HMC Rheumatology and Orthopedic Departments to Open New Fracture Liaison Clinic in Coming Months
Nation-Wide Screening Program Helping to Improve Osteoporosis
Outcomes for Patients
Doha, 6 October, 2020: Dr. Samar Al Emadi, Head of Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Rheumatology Division says in recent years her team has made major strides towards educating the public about the importance of good bone health. She says HMC’s Rheumatology Division uses the latest technology and medication to diagnose and treat patients with osteoporosis and is continuing to collaborate with specialists across the globe to ensure patients in Qatar have access to world-class care.
“There is clear evidence that timely testing is critical to faster diagnosis, prompter treatment, and, better outcomes in many medical conditions, including osteoporosis. Today many people are more educated about the importance of good bone health and they understand that osteoporosis is not just a disease of the elderly. However, many people remain unaware that osteoporosis is a largely preventable disease,” said Dr. Al Emadi.
“Our team is working with international experts to prepare an Osteoporosis Treatment Guideline as part of efforts to standardize osteoporosis care in Qatar. Last year we launched a national osteoporosis screening program and we recently introduced a program that will see all patients age 50 years and above who have experienced a fracture screened for the disease. Our Rheumatology and Orthopedic Departments are currently finalizing plans to open a Fracture Liaison Clinic later this year. The main aim for this clinic will be to identify patients with fragility (low impact trauma) fractures who have osteoporosis so that we can begin treatment in the hope of preventing further fractures,” said Dr. Al Emadi.
Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease as patients seldom have signs or symptoms until a fracture occurs. While risk factors for the condition include older age, a family history of osteoporosis, low body weight, smoking, certain medical conditions and some medications, such as steroids (cortisone), and gender, with the disease being more common in women, many people with osteoporosis continue to go undiagnosed and untreated.
Dr. Nabeel Abdulla, Rheumatology Consultant, says healthcare professionals play an important role in educating their patients about bone health. He says healthcare providers who have female patients over the age of 50 years should prioritize bone health, noting that early identification and treatment of low bone density is the most effective approach to preventing future fractures.
“Osteoporosis weakens the bones and can lead to painful fractures or severe disability. One in three women and one in five men over the age of 50 might be affected by osteoporosis during their lifetime. The condition can lead to fractures that can be followed by chronic pain, depression, and even reduced life expectancy. Both doctors and patients should be educated about this disease, and in particular about early symptoms. Sudden severe backache (due to a fractured or collapsed vertebra), a gradual loss of height and an accompanying stooped posture, and fractures that occur with minor trauma should all be viewed as possible warning signs,” explained Dr. Abdulla.
“A bone mineral density test (BMD) and/or a fracture risk assessment can be important diagnostic tools and can help guide treatment options. Once the disease is identified, treatment can help strengthen bones and prevent further fractures,” added Dr. Abdulla.
Dr. Omar Alsaed, Associate Rheumatology Consultant, says it is important for patients who have been prescribed osteoporosis medication to ensure they take it as directed.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every aspect of how healthcare is delivered and it has also, unfortunately, resulted in the sharing of some incorrect and damaging health advice. If your doctor has prescribed medicine to treat your condition, you should never stop taking the medication, or change the dosage, without your doctor’s approval. There is no known interaction between COVID-19 infection and osteoporosis medications. Any patient who has questions or concerns about their osteoporosis treatment plan should talk to their doctor. Osteoporosis can’t be cured, but with medication and lifestyle changes, you can slow or even stop it,” said Dr. Alsaed.
Dr. Alsaed says patients with osteoporosis should make every effort to attend all scheduled medical appointments, noting that ongoing treatment is an important part of managing the disease. He says the Rheumatology Division is working with HMC’s Home Health Care Service to provide in-home care to patients who receive an injection every six months as part of their treatment plan to ensure that these patients continue to receive the medication on time. He says they are also collaborating with the home care service to offer in-home treatment to osteoporosis patients who are most at risk for severe COVID-19 illness.