Journalist and talk-show host Meredith Vieira has spent 40 years covering groundbreaking news and current events. Now, she has teamed up with Radius Health to tell a story that hits a little closer to home.
Vieira’s mother, Mary Elsie Rosa, suffered from osteoporosis, a bone disease that causes bones to become weak and susceptible to breaks from a fall or, in severe cases, a sneeze or minor bump. The disease affects more than 8 million women over the age of 50, and after witnessing first-hand how debilitating it can be, Vieira has made it her mission to educate post-menopausal women on the early warning signs of osteoporosis.
When Vieira’s mother was in her 60s, she developed a hunchback and later broke her pelvis due to a low-impact fall. But, it wasn’t until much later that she received a diagnosis.
“I never put that together with osteoporosis and neither did she,” Vieira, now 63, told Fox News. “Back then I thought, ‘Well, that’s part of the natural aging process.’”
Osteoporosis is often deemed “silent” because of overlooked symptoms, but more women ages 55 and older are hospitalized each year due to disease-related fractures than breast cancer, heart attacks or strokes, according to Radius Health.
Because of her family history, Vieira was encouraged to undergo a bone density test which resulted in a diagnosis of osteopenia of the spine. While the condition puts her at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis, early diagnosis has helped her take precautions with her health.
“I think for me, it came down to taking better care of myself at that point,” she said. “Being aware of calcium, and vitamin D and really weight-bearing exercises is very important. I want to get older. The alternative is not for me.”
In addition to family history, leading a sedentary lifestyle as a person gets older can contribute to a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. While Vieira has always exercised regularly, she is now encouraging others to make changes in their lives and make bone health a priority.
“Don’t do what my mom did,” Vieira said. “Don’t just assume, ‘I’m clumsy.’ Talk to your doctor about it and talk directly about osteoporosis.”
For more information about the campaign, click here.