It's often called the "silent killer."  Fractures from osteoporosis are more common than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer combined. Those fractures can and do lead to death.

Now, the push is on to get people 65 and older tested well before any breaks.

Jason York knows a lot about the importance of bone strength.

The former Senators’ defenseman and current host on Team 1200 has broken more than he cares to remember.

“This is the interesting thing with professional athletes,” jokes York, “I'm 42 on the outside but on the inside with my bones and my body in general, I’m more like 72.”

Now, York has teamed up with the Kemptville District Hospital to promote the need for getting your bone strength tested.  The hospital has a machine to test bone mineral density (BMD) to predict the risk of osteoporosis.  80-year-old Joan Gummeson is having the test to determine whether her bones are healthy.

"We don't heal as fast at this age,” says Gummeson, “and we fracture more easily.” 

The statistics are scary.  Twenty-eight percent of women and thirty-seven percent of men will die within a year of suffering a hip or spinal fracture caused by osteoporosis. Over 80% of all fractures in people 50+ are caused by osteoporosis. The disease has no symptoms.  That’s why screening is critical in both women and men.

Dr. Greg Leonard is Chief of Staff at Kemptville District Hospital. He says, “We're not doing a good job advocating for screening.  There's a ton of people who have never met up with bone mineral density testing and they don't have a clue where they are in that fracture risk.” 

The bone mineral density scan is recommended for people 65 and over and younger people at risk.  Judy Littau's low body weight put her in that category.  Her doctor suggested the scan.

"I was surprised when she called back,” says Littau, “and said they weren't quite as dense as she'd like even though I exercise, eat well.”

Now, she's taking calcium supplements and vitamin D to help absorb the calcium.  Doctors suggest that for everyone, in addition to weight bearing exercises like walking. 

“Anything that's building muscle is building bone strength as well,” says Dr. Leonard.

The bone mineral density test test is painless, free and quick.  People just need a referral from their doctor.