Diuretics May Prevent Hip Fractures
Inexpensive Hypertension Drugs may Have Hidden Bone Benefits
Sept. 16, 2003 -- An inexpensive drug commonly used to fight
high blood pressure may also fight another common health problem faced by older
people -- hip fractures.
A new study shows people over 55 who took thiazide diuretics
for a year or more had about a 50% lower risk of suffering a potentially
debilitating hip fracture than those who never took diuretics.
Thiazide diuretics are often used to treat high blood pressure,
but researchers say they may also protect against age-related bone loss by
reducing the amount of calcium expelled in urine.
Most hip fractures are a result of the bone-weakening disease
osteoporosis. Researchers say the findings suggest that long-term treatment
with diuretics may help in preventing the accelerated bone loss associated with
Drugs May Slow Bone Loss
In the study, published in the Sept. 16 issue of the Annals
of Internal Medicine, researchers followed 7,891 men and women over age 55
in the Netherlands for eight to nine years.
By the end of the study, 281 hip fractures had occurred.
Researchers then compared the number of hip fractures among people who had
taken thiazide diuretics and those who had not been prescribed the drugs and
how long they were treated with thiazide diuretics.
The study showed that people who had used thiazide diuretics
for a year or more were about half as likely to suffer a hip fracture than
those who had never used them. The protective benefits of thiazide diuretics
disappeared within four months after patients stopped taking the drugs.
Researcher Marieta W.C.J. Schoofs, MD, MSc, of Erasmus MC,
Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues say more research is needed to determine
whether the effects of thiazide diuretics are similar to or enhance those of
other drugs used to prevent hip fractures.
Thiazide diuretics are inexpensive and have few side effects.
Researchers say the drugs are often recommended as the first line of treatment
for high blood pressure, but prescription rates for the drugs have decreased in
recent years as other anti-hypertensive medications have entered the
High blood pressure is a common medical problem that often
requires long-term treatment, and researchers say their findings suggest that
using thiazide diuretics to treat hypertension in this manner may also have the
added benefit of lowering the risk of hip fracture.