But stronger bones did not translate into fewer fractures in this elderly, high-risk population
WebMD News from HealthDay
By Steven Reinberg
MONDAY, April 13, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Frail, older women may only need a single dose of the osteoporosis drug Reclast to build bone strength, a new study suggests.
But greater bone density did not translate into fewer fractures among these high-risk women, who were living in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities during the study, the researchers added.
"Two surprising findings emerged," said study author Dr. Susan Greenspan, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.
The drug improved bone strength in the very old and frail as well as it did in younger and more robust seniors, but there was no association between increasing bone density and reducing fractures, she said.
"We first wanted to see if frail elders could even tolerate such treatment, and whether it would improve bone density. However, we had expected to see a positive trend of fewer fractures. But if anything, there were more fractures in the treatment group," Greenspan said, although "that could well be just a chance finding."
Greenspan hopes that the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which funded this trial, will fund a larger study to see if treatment with Reclast (zoledronic acid) will actually reduce the risk of fractures.
If a larger trial found that treatment with Reclast did reduce fractures, "it would require rethinking the approach to fracture prevention in this large and growing population, especially since these are the individuals who also are at the highest risk of both fracture and its consequences," Greenspan explained.
The study was published online April 13 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Dr. Robert Lindsay, chief of the Osteoporosis Center at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, N.Y., and author of an accompanying journal editorial, said Reclast has been shown to reduce fractures in people with osteoporosis, but several factors may explain why the number of fractures did not decline in this study, even though bone density increased in these older frail women.
Fractures in the elderly occur not only because the bones are weak, but also because people in this group are prone to falls, he said. "Both risks are high in this population. The study tells us that treating one side of the equation, bad bones, can only do so much when the risk of injury is high, because the patients studied were quite frail."
source : Bone-Building Drug Strengthened Hips, Spines of Frail Women in Study