Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020) Osteoporosis, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 27 November 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Osteoporosis. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoporosis
Osteoporosis. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 25 August 2020, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoporosis
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Osteoporosis [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020 [cited 2022 Nov. 27]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoporosis
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2020, Osteoporosis, viewed 27 November 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/chronic-musculoskeletal-conditions/osteoporosis
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Osteoporosis (meaning 'porous bones') is a condition that causes bones to become thin, weak and fragile. As a result, even a minor bump or accident can cause a fracture (broken bone). Such events might include falling out of a bed or chair, or tripping and falling while walking. Fractures due to osteoporosis can result in chronic pain, disability, loss of independence and premature death (Bliuc et al. 2013).
Decreased bone density occurs when bones lose minerals such as calcium faster than the body can replace them (OAMSAC 2014). The decrease in bone mineral density (BMD) and changes in bone quality make bones more fragile and more easily broken than bones of 'normal' density (OAMSAC 2014). Low bone density is known as osteopenia and is the range of bone density between normal bones and osteoporosis.
Risk factors associated with the development of osteoporosis include increasing age, sex, family history of the condition, low vitamin D levels, low intake of calcium, low body weight, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, long-term corticosteroid use and reduced oestrogen level (Ebeling et al. 2013).
Generally, osteoporosis is under-diagnosed. Because osteoporosis has no overt symptoms, it is often not diagnosed until a fracture occurs. It is therefore difficult to determine the true prevalence of the condition (that is, the number of people with the condition). Information about 'diagnosed cases' is likely to underestimate the actual prevalence of the condition.
An estimated 924,000 Australians have osteoporosis, based on self-reported data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017–18 National Health Survey (NHS) and 20% of people aged 75 years and over have osteoporosis (ABS 2018). This definition of osteoporosis includes people who had osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Osteoporosis is more common in women than men. In 2017–18, 29% of women aged 75 and over had osteoporosis compared with 10% of men.
Older age groups also tend to be affected. The proportion of women with osteoporosis increases with age, with those 75 and over being most affected (Figure 1).
Note: refers to people who self-reported that they were diagnosed by a doctor or nurse as having osteoporosis or osteopenia (current and long term) and also people who self-reported having osteoporosis or osteopenia.
Source: AIHW analysis of ABS 2019a (Data table).
According to self-reported data from the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), prevalence of osteoporosis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.3%, affecting about 18,900 people —including about 1000 who live in remote areas (0.7% of the remote Indigenous population).
After adjusting for age, twice as many females (5.1%) were affected by the condition than males (2.5%). The prevalence in Indigenous Australians (3.9%) and non-Indigenous Australians (3.3%) was similar overall and for females while the prevalence of osteoporosis was 1.9 times as high in Indigenous males as non-Indigenous males (Figure 2).
Note: Rates are age-standardised to the Australian population as at 30 June 2001.
Source: ABS 2019b (Data table).
ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2018. National Health Survey: First Results, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.
ABS 2019a. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017-18, detailed microdata, DataLab. ABS cat no. 4324.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Findings based on AIHW analysis of ABS microdata.
ABS 2019b. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: 2018–19. ABS cat. no. 4715.0. Canberra: ABS.
Bliuc D, Nguyen ND, Nguyen TV et al. 2013. Compound risk of mortality following osteoporotic fracture and refracture in elderly women and men. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 28(11):2317–2324.
Ebeling PR, Daly RM, Kerr DA et al. 2013. Building healthy bones throughout life: an evidence-informed strategy to prevent osteoporosis in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia Open 2 (Supplement 1):1–46.
OAMSAC (Osteoporosis Australia Medical & Scientific Advisory Committee) 2014. About Osteoporosis. Sydney: Osteoporosis Australia. Viewed on 17 March 2020.
Stazi AV, Trecca A, Trinti B 2008. Osteoporosis in celiac disease and in endocrine and reproductive disorders. World J Gastroenterol. 14(4):498-505. doi: 10.3748/wjg.14.498.
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