Bone disease affecting one-third of older men
Dubai, May 3, 2010
Around one third of males over the age of 65 years suffer from the debilitating bone disease osteoporosis, which is more commonly seen in post-menopausal women, said an expert.
“Osteoporosis is a hidden disease in men, but from my own study you can see that the condition could be affecting a significant number of older Arab males in the UAE,” said Dr Haider M Al Attia, consultant internal medicine and rheumatology at Al Noor Hospital, Abu Dhabi.
Dr Attia was speaking at the fifth Pan-Arab Osteoporosis Congress which concluded recently in Damascus.
“The majority of these men will not even know they have the disease and may already have fractures that can lead to serious disability, and an increased risk of death,” he added.
Dr Al Attia tested the density of the femur bone in140 predominantly Arab male patients aged 55 years and over – who were attending hospital for the treatment of other conditions – to determine the prevalence of osteoporosis in this group.
The research, using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (Dexa), found that between 22 percent of men aged 55 plus, and 34 per cent of those over the age of 64.5 years, were suffering from the bone condition, which increases the risk of bone fracture and the likelihood of disability and death.
The findings indicate that a significant number of the overall male Arab population in the UAE could be suffering from osteoporosis – possibly in line with figures from the US which estimate prevalence of the disease among white males is seven percent and five percent in African-American men, compared with a prevalence of 30 per cent among post-menopausal white women.
Another study presented by Dr Al Attia at the conference underscores the high risk among men with osteoporosis of developing an osteoporotic fracture.
Using the hospital’s fracture registry, Dr Al Attia examined the prevalence of fragility fractures, which are associated with osteoporosis, in males and females during a 30-month time period.
Findings show that 41 per cent of the 37 documented fragility fractures were in men and 59 per cent in women, which is comparative to US figures that estimate 61 per cent of osteoporotic fractures occur in women and 39 per cent in men.
“Despite osteoporosis being more common in women, our study highlights the fact that if you are a male with osteoporosis you are as likely to suffer from a fragility fracture as a female patient,” Dr Al Attia said.
“Early diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis is essential, because after one fracture there is a five to 10-fold increase in the risk of suffering a second fracture within one year, and a two-fold increase in risk of hip fracture, with a resulting rise in the chance of suffering from disability and death.”
“Doctors in the UAE have all kinds of medications within accessible reach which they can use to treat osteoporosis, and men should be benefiting from these treatments, as well as women. Osteoporosis should always be investigated when caring for elderly patients, and it is vital that health providers and health educators in the UAE start to raise awareness of this debilitating disease among men,” he added.
The development of osteoporosis in men is primarily associated with age and genetic pre-disposition to the disease. However, there are a number of other factors which increase the risk, including treatment with glucocorticoid steroids, anticonvulsants, Vitamin D deficiency, chronic liver and kidney disease, smoking, excess alcohol intake, low levels of androgens, such as testosterone, and low levels of oestrogen. – TradeArabia News Service