Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Risk of osteoporosis drug's side effects not significant, Loyola researchers find

MAYWOOD, Ill. – The risks of developing kidney failure and a calcium deficiency from the popular osteoporosis drug zoledronic acid are extremely rare, according to researchers at Loyola University Health System (LUHS). These findings were presented earlier this month at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research’s annual meeting.

“Osteoporosis is a growing problem in this country,” said Laurae Hicks, first author and Stritch School of Medicine medical student. “These findings are valuable for the millions of Americans who suffer from osteoporosis and are considering their treatment options."

Zoledronic acid is commonly used to treat osteoporosis. The treatment strengthens bones by increasing the process by which bone is broken down and replaced with new bone tissue. While this medication is effective at preventing and treating osteoporosis, potential side effects include kidney failure and hypocalcemia.

Kidney failure occurs when the kidneys fail to adequately filter waste products from the blood while hypocalcemia is characterized by low calcium levels in the blood. This condition can lead to a variety of symptoms, including weakness, muscle cramps, excessive nervousness, headaches or uncontrollable twitching and cramping in certain muscles.

“This study helped us determine the severity and prevalence of these side effects,” said Pauline Camacho, MD, study investigator and director of the Loyola University Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease Center. “This will help us assess which patients are good candidates for this treatment."

Researchers studied 237 patients before and after they received injections of zoledronic acid. They found that a slight and clinically insignificant decline in calcium levels may be seen after the first infusion, but these effects appear to be transient. The findings apply only to individuals with normal vitamin D levels and kidney function prior to infusion and cannot be generalized to those with renal insufficiency and existing calcium and vitamin D deficiencies.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.