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Hip fracture protection by alendronate treatment in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis: a review of the literature.

Author(s): Iwamoto J, Sato Y, Takeda T, Matsumoto H

Affiliation(s): Department of Sports Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan. jiwamoto@sc.itc.keio.ac.jp

Publication date & source: 2008, Clin Interv Aging., 3(3):483-9.

Publication type: Review

Osteoporosis most commonly affects postmenopausal women, placing them at a significant risk of fractures. In particular, hip fractures are an important cause of mortality and morbidity among postmenopausal women. Anti-resorptive therapies that produce greater decreases in bone turnover markers together with greater increases in bone mineral density (BMD) are associated with greater reductions in fracture risk, especially at sites primarily composed of cortical bone such as the hip. Thus, treatment with potent anti-resorptive drugs like alendronate is a strategy for preventing hip fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the efficacy of alendronate against hip fractures and the mechanism for this anti-fracture efficacy in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials has shown that alendronate reduces the risk of hip fractures by 55% in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. According to the analyses of the Fracture Intervention Trial, each 1 standard deviation reduction in a 1-year change in bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP) is associated with 39% fewer hip fractures in alendronate-treated postmenopausal women, and those with at least 30% reduction in BSAP have a 74% lower risk of hip fractures relative to those with less than 30%. Alendronate is effective in reducing the risk of hip fractures across a spectrum of ages. The mechanism for this anti-fracture efficacy has been clarified; alendronate strongly suppresses bone turnover and subsequently increases hip BMD, decreases cortical porosity, improves parameters of hip structure geometry (cortical thickness, cross-sectional area, section modulus, and buckling ratio), and produces more uniform mineralization (increases the mean degree of mineralization of bone) in cortical bone. A once-weekly regimen of alendronate administration provides better patient compliance and persistence with the treatment than the once-daily dosing regimen, leading to greater efficacy against hip fractures. Thus, the efficacy of alendronate against hip fractures has been confirmed in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, especially with a once-weekly dosing regimen.

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