A Geelong-based researcher has found that, while there have been significant advances in the treatment and prevention of fractures from osteoporosis in Australian women, the same is not true of men.
"Our findings using the Geelong Osteoporosis Study data reveal that only one quarter of men who are eligible for osteoporosis treatment after a bone fracture actually commence treatment," said PhD candidate Renée Otmar, who is working in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit at Geelong Hospital, a partnership between Barwon Health and Deakin University's School of Medicine.
"Essentially osteoporosis continues to be under-diagnosed and under-treated, particularly in men.
"A total of 109 men who had sustained a bone fracture between July 2006 and December 2007 were identified from hospital X-Ray reports.
"The men themselves were not aware they had osteoporosis, even if they had visited their GP recently.
"As part of our survey, we sent a questionnaire to the eligible participants approximately 12 months after the discovery of their fracture asking about medications prescribed for osteoporosis/fracture/low bone mass' before and after their fracture."
Among men aged 50 years and older who had sustained a fracture, 76% remained untreated.
"What this is really telling us is that we still need more research into osteoporosis, but particularly in men," Ms Otmar said.
"We also need to encourage GPs to think about osteoporosis when patients come to them with fragility fractures.
"The more awareness there is about osteoporosis the better and, of course, the greater opportunities for prevention," she said
"People need to have a healthy and active lifestyle to reduce the potential for osteoporosis.
"They need adequate calcium in their diet and Vitamin D, mainly from the sun.
"Exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise, is also recommended."
Ms Otmar is a Melbourne University PhD candidate who is completing her research under the supervision of Deakin University's Associate Professor Julie Pasco at Barwon Health. Her research has won international recognition and was published in Osteoporosis International in March 2011.
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