A study published in the June issue of the journal Osteoporosis International finds that older men who suffer a hip fracture are twice as likely to die within a year as elderly females. The mindset that osteoporosis is a “woman’s problem” has hampered older men from receiving the kind of aggressive treatment they require for this condition.

In women, menopause is the main cause of osteoporosis. While men do not suffer this age-related problem, they are no less prone to serious bone degeneration due to other risk factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, the use of certain medications, and diminished circulating testosterone levels.

The researchers found just 1.1% of men hospitalized with a serious fracture received a bone density test to evaluate their overall risk for such injuries. In addition, only about 17% of men who suffered a spine or hip fracture were treated with osteoporosis medications to strength their bones.

Since men start off with denser, healthier bone than women, osteoporosis does not become an issue until around 70. When either an elderly man or woman suffers a hip fracture, however, the presence of brittle bones can quickly become a life-or-death risk.

Death is a recognized risk after a hip fracture in elderly patients for a number of reasons. Underlying cardiovascular disease may lead to congestive heart failure. Infection is another possibility. The sudden and prolonged inactivity cannot be discounted either. Finally, consequences of the fracture itself may play a role in as many as 25% of the deaths.

The major risk factors are preventable through limiting alcohol intake, quitting smoking, medication, and a combination of diet and exercise. Since a serious fracture requires brittle bones and a fall, both risks should be addressed by older men.

Calcium and vitamin D will help with the bones. Exercise, while slightly helpful with increasing bone density, is very important for strength and stability.

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