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South Western Melbourne Medicare Local (SWMML) is calling on communities and health care professionals to better inform themselves about the prevalence of osteoporosis and the preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing the disease.
SWMMLs efforts to combat the prevalence of a disease that affects 4.74 million Australians over 50, follows the findings of a report released last year for Osteoporosis Australia indicating that by 2022, the total direct and indirect cost of the disease and associated fractures will reach $33.6 billion.
The Wyndham and Hobsons Bay regions have a combined population of over 56,000 residents aged 50 years and over and with an ageing population, SWMML CEO, Ms. Gaylene Coulton is encouraging more people to seek advice from their local general practitioners to ensure early detection of the disease.
“SWMML is providing educational resources to support health care professionals to effectively manage and prevent fractures in the community, with the aim of minimizing the indirect and direct cost of the disease on the individual.
“Maintaining healthy bones for people of all ages is crucial in reducing the risk of fractures, so making sure your diet is high in calcium and you’re getting enough sunshine and exercise each day are some small preventative measures that can be taken to ensure your bones stay strong and healthy,” says Ms. Coulton.
According to the report, osteoporosis can be diagnosed and managed to reduce fracture rates and in many cases prevent fractures all together. However, osteoporosis remains under diagnosed even when a fracture has occurred.
Medical Director of Osteoporosis Australia, Professor Peter Ebeling says health care professionals can play a significant role in preventing and diagnosing fractures caused by osteoporosis.
“Health care professionals can prevent fractures due to osteoporosis, by investigating and treating patients who have already had fractures and checking bone density in the elderly (≥70 years) or in their patients with risk factors for osteoporosis.
“It is never too late to prevent osteoporosis and health care professionals can play a major role,” says Professor Ebeling.
Further information about Osteoporosis Australia and information about maintaining healthy bones can be found at www.healthybones.com.au.
 Osteoporosis costing all Australians: A new burden of disease analysis- 2012 to 2022, prepared for Osteoporosis Australia.
 Statistics according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing 2006-2011 for the City of Wyndham and Hobsons Bay.