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  • Osteoporosis made the greatest contribution to mortality

    Author: AAP

A new report shows one in 20 deaths in 2013 were directly caused by, or contributed to, by musculoskeletal conditions like osteoporosis.

A new report has highlighted the deadly contribution musculoskeletal conditions, such as osteoporosis, have on Australia's ageing population.

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One in 20 deaths in 2013 were directly caused by, or contributed to, by musculoskeletal conditions, according to a new report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on Thursday.

Osteoporosis made the greatest contribution to mortality - contributing to more than 1600 deaths.

Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, are not commonly recorded as the underlying cause of death, however they affect 30 per cent of Australians.

The (AIHW) report shows women were more likely to die as a result of an underlying musculoskeletal condition.

In 2013, there were 806 female deaths compared with 375 deaths among males.

For the almost 148,000 registered deaths, musculoskeletal conditions were recorded as the underlying cause for 1181 deaths, or 0.8 per cent, and were an associated cause for 5782 deaths (3.9 per cent).

Professor Belinda Beck from the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, who also works as a consultant at Griffith University's The Bone Clinic, says when the very old break a hip they almost certainly die.

"We've known for a long time that prevention of hip fractures is definitely a way to reduce mortality because the sequence of events that happens afterwards is so negative for your health. If you loose your ability to be mobile then you can't keep your other systems healthy through exercise and just daily activity."

Age is a major risk factor for osteoporosis in women as well as men. Over the age of 50, an estimated one in two women and one in four men will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Prof Beck says the consequences of poor bone health in later life is more far-reaching than people think.

"Maintaining your bone mass and preventing falls is absolutely the secret to preventing musculoskeletal-related deaths. Keeping people active and healthy and upright," she said.

"They don't call osteoporosis the invisible disease for nothing. It's the reason why people don't worry about their bones - they can't see them, and most people they don't know they have it."

If you're age 60 and you have a family history of osteoporosis and you are starting to loose a bit of height then its time for a bone scan, advises Prof Beck.


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