Osteoporosis – cracking up older men

‘Movember’ is all about helping men live happier, healthier and longer lives.

 

To tie in with the campaign’s month-long focus on men’s health, NPS MedicineWise is raising awareness about osteoporosis—an under-investigated and under-treated condition in men.

 

Osteoporosis affects men more often and more severely than many people realise.

 

It is estimated that 1 in 4 Australian men aged over 50 will experience a minimal trauma fracture (a broken bone resulting from a minor bump or fall) because their bones have become fragile due to osteoporosis. Men are also more likely than women to die in the years following a minimal trauma fracture.

 

Yet many Australian men with osteoporosis are not receiving treatment. Less than 15% of Australian men with a minimal trauma fracture—the strongest sign of osteoporosis—are being investigated or treated for osteoporosis.

 

NPS MedicineWise Clinical Adviser Dr Andrew Boyden says, “Men are encouraged to talk to their GP about osteoporosis. Asking a few questions could keep them out of hospital suffering from a fracture which resulted from a minor bump or fall.

 

“Men who have had or think they may have had minimal trauma fracture in the past should ensure that their usual doctor or clinical practice is aware of this—as there are very effective treatments available for osteoporosis that lower the risk of another fracture.

 

“Report falls and fractures to your doctor, don’t dismiss a fracture as part of the ageing process.”

 

“For men who have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s very important to take medicines regularly as advised by their doctor. Data from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme shows that about 40% of people prescribed osteoporosis medicines did not take enough to get the most clinical benefit from them.

 

“It takes time for osteoporosis medicines to effectively strengthen bones. They take between 6 and 12 months of use before they effectively start to reduce the risk of fracture,” says Dr Boyden.

 

As well, general lifestyle measures can help all men aged 50 and over maintain their bone health and continue to enjoy an independent lifestyle as they become older:

  • Stop smoking and limit alcohol intake to no more than 2 standard drinks a day

  • Do regular, weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises

  • Maintain body weight in healthy weight range

  • Maintain daily dietary calcium intake as recommended by Australian Dietary Guidelines

  • Maintain recommended vitamin D levels through safe sun exposure.

Men who are at higher risk of osteoporosis, such as those who have had a fracture, are aged 70 years or over, or are on long-term corticosteroid treatment, should also talk to their doctor about ways to help prevent falls.

 

To find out more about osteoporosis and the importance of taking osteoporosis medicines regularly, see www.nps.org.au/osteoporosis.

5 November 2015.