Men unaware of osteoporosis
Even a small fracture can be an indicator of 
osteoporosis, and a warning that action is
needed to prevent a more serious break.
Image: Diego_cervo/iStockphoto

Despite a high prevalence of osteoporosis in elderly Australian men, 90 percent of men with osteoporosis are unaware they have the condition, according to a University of Sydney study published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Kerrin Bleicher, a physiotherapist and PhD student at the Sydney Medical School, and co-authors conducted a study to determine the proportion of older Australian men who meet the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) criteria for osteoporosis treatment and are receiving effective treatment.

Of the 1705 men aged over 70 years or over who participated in the study, 25 percent met one or more of the PBS criteria for osteoporosis treatment. Ninety percent of the men who met the PBS criteria were unaware they had osteoporosis.

Ms Bleicher said that this lack of awareness may have resulted in substantial underestimation of osteoporosis prevalence in men in a recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that relied in self-report of osteoporosis.

"Identifying men who will benefit from osteoporosis treatment and increasing the proportion of eligible men receiving appropriate treatment is a public health issue," Ms Bleicher said.

"Both non-pharmacological treatments and pharmacological treatments need to be implemented to reduce fracture rates.

"Currently it is projected that, because of the ageing population, hip fractures may double by 2026 and increase fourfold by 2051."

Even small fractures can be an indicator of underlying osteoporosis and a warning that a more serious life threatening break may be on the way.

"An important step forward is to build public and general medical awareness that osteoporosis is common in older men and that minimal trauma fractures and vertebral deformities are indicators of increased risk of future fractures.

"Obtaining information about previous fractures, identifying vertebral deformities and testing bone density, where appropriate, can identify men at higher risk of fracture who may benefit from interventions.

Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.