A common drug to treat osteoporosis, known as alendronate, has been tied to additional health benefits besides simply treating weak bones. A recent study found that patients who take this medication also experience a reduced risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack, and stroke.
The study included newly diagnosed patients with hip fractures between 2005 and 2013 who were followed into late 2016. Of the 34,991 patients, 4,602 were being treated for osteoporosis.
Taking the drug alendronate was associated with a 67 percent and 45 percent lower risk of one-year cardiovascular death and heart attack respectively. Furthermore, it was associated with an 18 percent reduction of stroke risk within a five-year span and a 17 percent reduced risk of stroke within 10 years. These benefits to heart health were not seen among other forms of osteoporosis treatment.
Senior author of the study Dr. Ching-Lung Cheung explained, “It is well established that there is a worldwide crisis in the treatment of osteoporosis, due to patients’ awareness of the extremely rare side effects. Our findings show that alendronate is potentially cardioprotective in hip fracture patients. Therefore, physicians should consider prescribing alendronate or other nitrogen-containing bisphosphonates to hip fracture patients soon after their fracture, and patients should also have good compliance with alendronate treatment, as this is not only good for your bones, but also your heart.”
Other osteoporosis drugs have been hit with backlash for increased cardiovascular risk and so studies like this highlight the differences in osteoporosis treatment and their effects on heart health.
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