How Likely Are Women to Fracture a Bone While Taking Anti-osteoporosis Medications?

Spine and Ribs Are Common Fracture Sites

Very little is known about the characteristics of women who fracture a bone—in the spine, the wrist, or elsewhere—while taking anti-osteoporosis medication.
Male physiotherapist examining a senior woman's wrist in the medical officeUsing data from the Global Longitudinal Study of Osteoporosis in Women (GLOW), researchers from Spain, the UK, Canada, and the US looked at the clinical characteristics of women who had an incident fracture after more than 1 year of taking anti-osteoporosis medication.

Their paper, “Clinical characteristics of women who fracture despite anti-osteoporosis medication. The Global Longitudinal Study of Osteoporosis in Women,” was presented at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research.

Among the 46,443 patients who participated in GLOW at the end of the second year, researchers identified 6,584 women taking anti-osteoporosis medication at baseline, year 1, and year 2, who had known bone fracture status at the end of year 2.

The research team performed multi-variable logistic regression to predict bone fracture at year 2, beginning with all of the variables significant on univariate analysis.

Investigators found that 338 women (340 fractures) fractured a bone while taking anti-osteoporosis medication.

Compared with women who did not fracture a bone, women who fractured a bone were older (median age 72 years old vs 70 years old), sicker (had higher rates of chronic bronchitis or emphysema, osteoarthritis, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes), and at baseline, they had higher rates of previous fracture (after age 45), currently took cortisone, and had greater alcohol consumption.

Researchers found that the most common fractures were in the:

  • rib (19%)
  • wrist (18%)
  • spine (18%)
  • ankle (8.7%)
  • hip (7.5%)
  • upper arm (7.2%)

In multi-variable analysis, the following were independent predictors of bone fracture on treatment:

  • age
  • current corticosteroid use
  • diabetes
  • high alcohol intake
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • previous stroke
  • prior bone fracture (wrist, spine, and rib)

The study found that women with certain risks factors, such as co-morbidities, prior bone fracture, corticosteroid use, and high alcohol consumption, are at greater risk of bone fracture—in the spine, wrist, or elsewhere—despite taking anti-osteoporosis medication.

Updated on: 03/02/17
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