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One in five women with postmenopausal osteoporosis who suffer a vertebral fracture, the most common type of fracture in people with osteoporosis, suffer a second vertebral fracture within a year, according to a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The 2,725 postmenopausal women studied were enrolled in the control groups of four large clinical studies evaluating the therapeutic benefit of the osteoporosis medication risedronate. The women in the control groups received only supplemental calcium and, if needed, vitamin D.
Researchers analyzed data from all 2,725 women. Of the 381 women who fractured during the study, 19.2% fractured again within a year — even when taking 1,000 mg of calcium and supplemental vitamin D. The researchers further found that after some women suffer a vertebral fracture, there may be a fracture "cascade," or domino effect, says lead author Robert Lindsay, MD, PhD, chief of internal medicine at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, NY.
"These findings challenge the current tendency to diagnose and treat osteoporosis only after a fracture has occurred," Lindsay notes. "They demonstrate the need for osteoporosis treatments that work quickly to reduce fracture risk."
[See: Lindsay R, Silverman SL, Cooper C, et al. Risk of new vertebral fracture in the year following a fracture. JAMA 2001; 285(3):320-323. Additional reading: Harris ST, Watts NB, Genant HK, et al. Effects of risedronate treatment on vertebral and non vertebral fractures in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 1999; 282(14):1344-1352.]