Odds on Osteoporosis
Odds on osteoporosis
One in three Australian men and one in two Australian women experience bone fractures, and someone is admitted to an Australian hospital every five to six minutes with an osteoporotic fracture.
Even a small bump can cause serious fractures to a person with osteoporosis, which is why it is better to diagnose osteoporosis before it becomes a major health risk.
Given that one in three Australian men and one in two Australian women experience bone fractures, it’s worthwhile learning what you can about osteoporosis and bone health.
No bones about it
Osteoporosis can lead to serious injury, so it pays to keep a check on the health of your bones.
Strong, healthy bones are something we take for granted in our youth but as we age, the density and quality of our bones are gradually reduced. As a result, they become thinner and, in some cases, can become brittle and more susceptible to fracture than normal bones.
This condition is known as osteoporosis, or ‘brittle bone disease’, which, according to Osteoporosis Australia, occurs when bones lose minerals, especially calcium, quicker than the body can replace them.
A 2007 report prepared for Osteoporosis Australia by the University of Melbourne’s Department of Medicine1 estimates that someone is admitted to an Australian hospital every five to six minutes with an osteoporotic fracture – a figure that will rise to every three to four minutes over the next decade as our population ages.
Osteoporosis affects both men and women, but while one in three Australian men will suffer an osteoporotic fracture, the figure is higher for women at one in two, due mainly to rapidly declining oestrogen levels after menopause. Risk factors include a family history of osteoporosis, conditions such as coeliac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic liver or kidney disease and, in men, loss of libido and impotence.
The Federal Government provides a free screening program for Australians aged 70 and over, where a bone density test known as dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) measures bone density at the hip or spine, the area where most osteoporosis-related fractures occur.
However, the National Osteoporosis Foundation2 recommends DEXA scans for post-menopausal women under the age of 65 and men aged 50 to 69 who have risk factors for osteoporosis.
Even a small bump can cause serious fractures to a person with osteoporosis, resulting in major injury or disability, which is why it is better to diagnose early-onset osteoporosis before it becomes a major health risk.
1University of Melbourne’s Department of Medicine 2007 report prepared for Osteoporosis Australia http://www.osteoporosis.org.au/images/stories/documents/research/burdenbrittle_oa_2007.pdf
2 National Osteoporosis Foundation diagnosis information https://www.nof.org/patients/diagnosis-information/bone-density-examtesting/
Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.