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Heart Disease Health Center

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Fracture Risk From Loop Diuretics Small

Only Long-Term Users Show Increased Risk of Bone Fractures
WebMD Health News

Jan. 26, 2009 -- Lasix and similar diuretic drugs that are widely prescribed for heart failure do not significantly raise the risk for bone fractures, new research shows.

Heart failure is associated with an increased risk for osteoporosis and fractures. In one recent study, heart failure patients were found to have six times as many hip fractures as other heart patients.

Lasix and other drugs in the class known as loop diuretics are commonly used to treat heart failure. But these drugs also promote elimination of calcium by the kidneys, which could promote bone loss and fracture.

But in the largest study ever to examine the issue, researchers found little evidence linking the use of loop diuretics to changes in bone mineral density, falls, and fractures in postmenopausal women.

Only a small increase in risk was seen in women who took the drugs for more than three years.

"I would characterize these findings as very reassuring," says lead researcher Laura D. Carbone, MD, MS, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

"When these drugs were used for short periods, there was no increase in the fracture rate. When they were used for longer periods, the fracture risk was just slightly increased."

Heart Failure, Falls, and Fractures

Carbone and colleagues analyzed data on the use of loop diuretics and outcomes in nearly 135,000 women enrolled in the national health study known as the Women's Health Initiative in the 1990s.

The researchers compared the rate of fractures and falls among the 3,411 study participants who used loop diuretics and those who did not over eight years of follow-up. They also analyzed bone mineral density measurements for 300 diuretic users and 9,124 nonusers throughout the observation period.

They found no significant differences between the two groups in bone mineral density at study entry and after three years of observation.

Likewise, no significant difference was seen in total fractures, hip fractures, vertebral fractures in the back, or falls when loop diuretics were used for three years or less.

Use of the drugs for more than three years was associated with a 16% increase in risk for total fractures.

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