Men’s Health: Osteoporosis is also a man’s disease

Men age 60 years and older who break a bone are at high risk for a repeat fracture

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Older men should consider getting treated for osteoporosis, or brittle bones, when they suffer a fracture during a low-trauma accident such as tripping and falling on level ground.

Australian researchers have found these men are at high risk for fracturing a second bone within as little as two years. In fact, men’s risk of a second fracture is at least as great as the initial fracture risk of a woman 10 years older or a man at least 20 years older. And half of these second fractures will occur within the first two years.

“Virtually all low-trauma fractures indicate the clinical need for fracture preventive therapy, and given the early peak of re-fracture, such preventive treatment should not be delayed,” according to Dr. Jacqueline Center and her colleagues at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

They studied more than 1,700 men and 2,200 women age 60 and older for a period of 16 years.

Although men have a lower risk for an initial low-trauma fracture than women, their risk of sustaining a second fracture increased twice as much as women’s. As a result, second fractures occurred at similar rates in both sexes. The annual rates of second fractures were 62 per 1,000 women and 57 per 1,000 men.

The elevated risk of a second fracture persisted for 10 years after the initial fracture, but approximately 40 per cent of re-fractures in women and 50 per cent of re-fractures in men occurred in the first two years. The increased risk of subsequent fracture followed virtually all initial low-trauma factures except ankle fractures in women and rib fractures in men.

The researchers caution that the study population was almost 99 per cent white, and the findings may therefore not be applicable to other racial or ethnic groups.