AUSTIN (KXAN) — Osteoporosis, a weakening of bone density, is often thought of as an old women’s disease, but that is not the whole story. A lot of men get it as well, and it can come on at a younger age than you might think. A new Harvard study finds men are far less likely to be tested for it, and if you are not tested, you may not catch it in time to slow or reverse it’s possibly catastrophic consequences.
Women are more likely to break a bone due to Osteoporosis, about half of them will past the age of 50. But so will one in four men. If you catch it you can stop it. Dr. Robert Koval, a rheumatologist with Texas Orthopedics, explains, “The earlier you catch it the better the outcome is going to be, the quicker you get treatment going you are able to save bone density and prevent fractures.”
The new Harvard study finds women who break a bone are three times more likely than men to then get screened with an exam. That could be due to a bias by physicians, or the stubbornness of men, it is hard to say. The quick and easy exam is a low-grade x-ray, that concentrates on your spine and hips, the areas most likely to show signs of trouble. If you do catch it, doctors can prescribe medications, diet improvements with calcium and milk, and certain exercises. You can stop the symptoms of osteoporosis and even improve your bone density.
This is especially important as you age. A broken bone later in life can be a disaster. Men are twice as likely as women to die from complications within a year of breaking a hip. Why is that? Dr. Koval says, “Folks who have a fracture of the spine or hip, the risk of mortality goes up significantly in the year after that fracture. Folks don’t do well when they are immobilized, hospitalized or in rehab centers. There are other medical conditions like blood clots that go up along those lines.”
So, the best advice may be to get that exam, and drink plenty of milk.