Australian women living with undiagnosed osteoporosis

A NEW report which suggests that many women may have osteoporosis without knowing it, serves as a reminder to all Australian women of the risks of this preventable disease, Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash said.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, estimating the prevalence of osteoporosis in Australia, highlights the significant impact the disease has on thousands of Australians, particularly older women.

"While 15% of Australian women aged over 50 report that they had osteoporosis, the AIHW acknowledges-based on other studies-that the real figure could be closer to 25 per cent," Ms Nash said.

"Osteoporosis is often called 'the silent disease' as it weakens a person's bones without any obvious symptoms. Many people are not aware they have the disease until they suffer a fracture.

"However, there are steps we can take to avoid or delay the disease, such as getting the required amount of calcium and vitamin D, being physically active and not smoking.

"This report is a timely reminder to all Australian women celebrating Women's Health Week this week to take time to think about their health, and that there are simple steps we can take to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis."

Ms Nash said one of the most serious consequences for people with osteoporosis was the increased risk of minimal trauma fractures of the hip, often as a result of a simple fall.

"The report reveals that 19,000 Australians aged over 50 were hospitalised in 2011-12 with minimal trauma fractures of the hip, and almost three-quarters were women. People with osteoporosis and low bone density can reduce their risk of fractures by ensuring their homes are free of tripping and slipping hazards, and by improving their strength and balance through regular exercise," she said.

"Many Australian women put the health of their families before their own. However, there is nothing selfish about taking some time to improve our own health because the better our health is, the more able we are to achieve our personal and family goals."

For a copy of the report, head to http://www.aihw.gov.au



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