Guest: Dr. Andrew Briggs
Presenter: Patrick Reyes
Guest Bio: Associate Professor Andrew Briggs’ career has included senior roles in clinical practice, research and health policy. He completed his PhD in 2006 at the University of Melbourne in the area of osteoporosis and spinal biomechanics and motor control. Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian College of Physiotherapists (FACP), awarded based on original contribution to musculoskeletal healthcare.
In his current role, Andrew Briggs has established a research group at Curtin to undertake work which focuses on the development, implementation and evaluation of musculoskeletal health policy initiatives, particularly Models of Care. This program of work involves partnership with Government agencies, health services, consumers, non-government organisations and international organisations. Andrew maintains an active involvement with the Global Alliance for Musculoskeletal Health of the Bone and Joint Decade.
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, we welcome Associate Professor Andrew Briggs here to talks about bone health as we celebrate World Osteoporosis Day. For this year’s campaign, health professionals and health authorities are called to prioritize osteoporosis and fracture prevention by ensuring that people at high-risk are assessed and appropriately treated as well as to remind the public to take early action to protect their bone and muscle health.
Currently, Dr. Briggs co-leads a team whose programme of research is focussed on evaluation and implementation of health policy for musculoskeletal health, and examining and closing evidence-practice gaps in musculoskeletal healthcare with a focus on persistent pain, inflammatory arthritis, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Health Professional Radio – World Osteoporosis
Patrick Reyes: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio, my name is Patrick Reyes and on today’s show we have Dr. Andrew Briggs. He’s an expert in musculoskeletal conditions and completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in the area of osteoporosis, spinal biomechanics and motor control, he’s also a Fellow of the Australian College of Physiotherapists. And he is here to talk about World Osteoporosis Day that takes place every year on October 20th and it’s dedicated to raising global awareness of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. Welcome to the show Andrew.
Dr. Andrew Briggs: Thanks Patrick.
P: Can you tell us what is osteoporosis?
B: Sure, so osteoporosis is a condition that affects the skeleton and what happens is the mineral content of the skeleton becomes less so that leads to the bone becoming more brittle and more susceptible to fracture. It usually occurs in older people but that’s not the only group of people…
P: I see and can this be life threatening or why is it life threatening?
B: Osteoporosis itself is not life threatening unless you sustain a fracture, so a fracture can be life threatening. For example about 20% of people who sustain a fracture of their hips die within the first 6 months of sustaining that fracture. So in that context it’s the fracture that becomes life threatening and… problems rather than the bone condition on its own.
P: And earlier you said it mostly affects elderly people, is there a reason why it does affect them?
B: Sure. Well as you age like all your body systems, they become less adaptable and normal age related changing can increase your risk of developing chronic diseases including osteoporosis. It can be due to hormonal changes particularly in females after menopause but in younger people it can also occur because it’s also associated with medications and other conditions that negatively affect your bones.
P: Is this a hereditary condition or does diet and exercise come to play?
B: There is a strong genetic component related to osteoporosis and that’s related to your ability to metabolize nutrients, bone structure, body size and so on but it’s equally related to non-genetic factors such as your diet or your nutritional status, how strong your skeleton is when you reached its peak bone mass that occurs in late adolescence. And then other lifestyle factors like how active you are, your type of exercise you do, your vitamin D status which is often related to exposure to the sun and your other sort of nutritional factors like calcium and so on.
P: So it is possible to prevent osteoporosis?
B: Yes, there are lots of things you can do to maintain your bone health. So for example exercise is critical and the type of exercise you do is also important. So certainly general exercise is important for all body systems but particularly for the skeleton, high impact weight based exercise is important so things like swimming for example while great for your lungs and muscles and other body systems it’s not as helpful for your skeleton because it’s potentially a non-weight bearing activity. Things like ensuring your diet is rich in bone healthy nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, try to minimize habits that are unhelpful to your bones like smoking and then making sure that if you do have risk factors for bone loss whether that be from another disease, from medication or previous history of fractures then appropriately assessed and started on treatment is really important.
P: Alright, well I usually take say like 2 glasses of milk everyday. Would you say that’s the recommended daily calcium intake?
B: Look recommended daily calcium intake varied according to age and your general health status so it’s pretty much dependent on whether you are in fact calcium deficient or whether your calcium level is normal but as a broad recommendation that 3-5 service of food that’s rich in calcium a day is the general recommendation so that might be things like milk, cheese, dairy products and other calcium rich food.
P: Alright and before we get to our last question, what’s the message you like to give to our audience as to being part of Health Professional Radio?
B: I think the main message would be that having awareness that your bone health can deteriorate over time but there is a lot that you can do to optimize your bone health like those things we talked about exercise, nutrition, calcium, vitamin D. And if you do have risk factors for osteoporosis to get those checked and commence some sort of intervention if it’s deemed appropriate.
P: Alright. And so last question what are the top myths about osteoporosis?
B: That’s a good question. I think the main myths would be that you don’t die from osteoporosis, well in fact there is a high mortality risk. The second myth being that it only happens to elderly females is also a myth. The fact that it’s just an inevitable part of aging is also a myth and the fact that you can’t really do anything about it is also a myth – all those things are not true.
P: Alright. Well thank you so much for joining us today Andrew.
B: Thanks, it was a pleasure.
P: Now you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Patrick Reyes and we’re in studio with Dr. Andrew Briggs. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.