Osteoporosis and osteoporotic fracture occurrence and prevention in the elderly: a geriatric perspective

Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Oct;22(5):765-85. Boonen S, Dejaeger E, Vanderschueren D, Venken K, Bogaerts A, Verschueren S, Milisen K.

Age is a major determinant of osteoporosis, but the elderly are rarely assessed and often remain untreated for this condition. Falls, co-morbidities and co-medications compound the risk of fracture in senile osteoporosis. The prevalence of osteoporosis is expected to increase with increasing life expectancy, and the associated fractures – particularly hip fractures – will lead to significant demands on health resources. Treatment of senile osteoporosis can include pharmacological and non-pharmacological intervention. Calcium and vitamin D dietary supplementation is a relatively low-cost way of reducing the risk of fracture. Pharmacological interventions with risedronate, zoledronic acid, or teriparatide have been shown to reduce vertebral fracture risk in osteoporosis patients over the age of 75. Zoledronic acid has been shown to reduce fracture risk in frail patients with recent hip fracture. In the oldest old (patients over 80), strontium ranelate is the first agent with documented anti-fracture efficacy for both non-vertebral and vertebral fracture and documented sustained efficacy over 5 years. Falls prevention is an essential component of any strategy for decreasing fracture risk in old age. Currently, senile osteoporosis is under-diagnosed and under-treated, but age should not be a barrier to intervention.

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