Osteoporosis is a major health problem affecting more than 44
million Americans and contributing to an estimated two million bone
fractures per year. Because diminished estrogen can contribute to bone
loss, menopause-age women have traditionally been the focus of
osteoporosis prevention efforts.
Men face a greater risk of mortality following a fracture related to osteoporosis, a common disease where the bones become weak and brittle, according to new research presented today at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS).
"Although women are more likely to sustain an initial, osteoporosis-related fragility fracture, men have similar rates of incurring a subsequent fracture and are at greater risk for mortality after these injuries," said lead study author Alan Zhang, an orthopedic surgeon and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
Of the more than one million patients identified with a diagnosis of osteoporosis in the analysis, 87% were female and 13% male. Among these patients:
- Women had a five-fold higher risk for an initial fragility fracture compared to men, and yet the relative risk for a subsequent fragility fracture within three years of the first fracture was slightly lower for women compared to men.
- Men who required surgical treatment for an initial fragility fracture were more likely to suffer a subsequent fragility fracture within three years. The exception was in men who suffered a vertebral (spinal) compression fracture (in these instances the risk was comparable).
- Men had higher one-year mortality rates for almost all fracture types studied (18.7% in men versus 13.9% in women). The only exception was ankle fractures where one-year mortality rates between men and women were comparable (8.1% for men and 8.4% for women).
"The key findings from this study show that patient sex can affect the risk for sustaining a fragility fracture related to osteoporosis," said Dr. Zhang. "These findings may be used to better counsel patients after an initial fragility fracture and to improve predictive tools for monitoring subsequent injuries."
Last year, AAOS joined the American Orthopedic Association, the Orthopedic Trauma Association (OTA) and the International Geriatric Fracture Society (IGFS) in drafting and approving new patient guidelines for preventing fragility fractures. "Orthopedic Care of Patients with Fragility Fractures" recommends that physicians proactively screen, monitor, and if necessary, assist in getting treatment for all elderly and other at-risk patients for osteoporosis following an initial bone fracture to prevent subsequent fractures.