One in three men over 60 at risk of osteoporosis
OSTEOPOROSIS is a disease process resulting in decreased bone strength, which increases the risk of fractures.
While most bones are affected by this process, the most common areas of fracture are the wrist, the hip and the spinal vertebrae.
One in three men in Australia over the age of 60 will have an osteoporotic fracture.
During our life cycle, bones normally turn over minerals such as calcium, however as we age the minerals are lost more quickly than they can be replaced.
As the bones lose the minerals, they lose their mass and density.
Factors such as low testosterone, high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, some medications used in asthma, arthritis and kidney disease, can all lead to an acceleration in bone mineral loss.
Lifestyle factors such as low levels of physical activity and poor nutrition can also influence the disease process.
Men who have symptoms such as loss of height or previous fractures, a family history of osteoporosis, or chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney or liver disease or testosterone deficiency should be tested.
The diagnosis is made with a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan.
This test measures the density of the bones in the spine and hip and compares it with the bone density of a healthy average adult of the same sex and ethnicity.
A "T-score" is derived and the number can inform the doctor if bone loss has occurred.
A score of -2.5 or lower indicates osteoporosis and the need for treatment.
Medications can prevent further bone loss and can even improve bone mass.
These medications can be in tablet or in an injectable form.
It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes enough calcium in the diet and to have adequate levels of Vitamin D.
Weight bearing exercise and paying attention to bone health throughout life will also help to lower your risk of osteoporosis.