Medicare guidelines call for this test in women who are 65 years old, though younger women with multiple risk factors are also encouraged to get bone density screening. The test costs about $150, so even for women who are not yet covered by Medicare, the cost is not prohibitive.
Fortunately, Savard said, there are steps that women can take to lessen the likelihood that they will have a problem with osteoporosis, even if they score well on a bone density test.
If you've got a healthy result, there are three things to do," Savard said. "Take a calcium supplement of 1,500 mg per day, and at least 1,000 units of vitamin D.
"And you need to exercise," she added. "Walking is great, but you need to build muscle mass with weight bearing exercise at least three times a week."
The third thing that women can do if they have risk factors for osteoporosis is to start taking drugs like Fosamax and Boniva, Savard said.
If there is anything else to bear in mind, Savard said, it is that there are also steps that younger women can take when it comes to preventing the bone-robbing disease.
"Just build up as much muscle and bone mass as you can with strength training and vitamins," she said. "The more you have stored up when you hit menopause, the more you'll have after it's over."