Few men with osteoporosis-related fractures seek out treatment for bone loss

Osteoporosis affects at least 2 million American males, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), but a new investigation revealed that older men are unlikely to see primary care physicians or seek treatment for bone loss following a fracture.

The results of the study appeared in the journal Osteoporosis International. Notably, researchers found that just 8 percent of men age 65 or older who suffer a fracture begin taking bisphosphonates in the following six months.

Scientists also found that men who see a primary care physician for broken bones are more likely to initiate an osteoporosis treatment regimen, although fewer than one-quarter of the participants visited such healthcare professionals during the study.

The team, which hailed from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, began by sifting through the insurance claims records of more than 17,600 men. All of these individuals were at least 65 years old, experienced a fracture and filed their claim between 2000 and 2005.

Researchers then broke down the resulting data along demographic, diagnostic, procedural and clinical lines.

They found that, prior to sustaining a fracture, just 2.7 percent of the elderly men had been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Following the injury, another 17.2 percent were determined the have the progressive bone disease.

For men and women alike, the importance of accurately diagnosing and treating osteoporosis can hardly be overstated. One in every four men over the age of 50 will suffer a bone-loss-related fracture in his lifetime, the NOF estimates.

These broken bones can be quite serious, even deadly.

Men who break their hip, for instance, are more likely than women to die of complications related to the injury. The NOF notes that more than 80,000 men break their hips each year.

One way to improve bone density and strength is through the use of prescription bisphosphonates, but the new study indicated that few older men begin such treatment after breaking a bone.

Scientists found that the odds of treatment increased with age, but even the oldest male participants had relatively low rates of bisphosphonate use. For instance, only only 11.6 percent of men between the ages of 85 and 89 started using bone-building pharmaceuticals after a fracture.

Researchers concluded that visiting a physician and testing for bone density following a broken bone may improve the rate of bisphosphonate use among men at high risk for osteoporosis.