Do Osteoporosis Drugs Pose Risks?

Thursday, 05 Sep 2013 10:26 AM

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Question: I am a 58-year-old healthy and active woman, but I had a recent bone density test that showed I have osteoporosis. My doctor said I have the bones of an 80-year-old. I have taken calcium, vitamin D3, and magnesium since I was 30. Now my physician wants me to take Reclast. What would you prescribe if I were your wife?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
 
Ah ha! What a good question. I'm not sure what to say here now. I would really need to do a general health assessment of your existing conditions as well as some details on your individual health risks, habits, and family history.
 
But you should consider the side effects of any medications being used strictly for osteoporosis without fracture, as I know many 80-year-old women who do just fine despite their osteoporosis. Remember this medication is administered intravenously, and once given, there is no going back.
 
If you are symptomatic, I might be aggressive in treating you. If you are asymptomatic, and just dealing with numbers, your doctor is going to have to work with you to come up with a suitable approach. 
 
Reclast is a serious drug used to treat high blood calcium levels from cancer, Paget's disease, multiple myeloma, and some selected cases of advanced osteoporosis. 
 
The side effects of Reclast include low calcium levels (that may cause heart disturbances, muscle cramps, and passing out), osteonecrosis of the jaw (painful jaw bone disappearance), bone, muscle or joint pain, fractures, kidney problems, and drug interactions with other medicines.
 
The choice must be an informed one, and I am usually more conservative with routine osteoporosis management.
 
 

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