Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Reclast now both treats and prevents osteoporosis

Not so long ago, it took a broken hip or a permanently curved spine to tell if someone had osteoporosis. Now, the bone-thinning disease can be diagnosed in its earliest stages with a painless bone-density scan.

Patients today have more options. New drugs — and you can't miss them if you watch TV at all — promise to stop bone loss, increase bone density and prevent crippling fractures.

One problem: Getting patients to take their medication.

"If they don't hurt, folks don't take it," says Dr. Joel Silverfield, an osteoporosis specialist with Tampa Medical Group. That's why Silverfield and other physicians are enthusiastic about Reclast, just approved by the FDA for use once every two years for preventing osteoporosis in postmenopausal women with the precursor condition osteopenia (it already had been approved for use once a year to treat osteoporosis).

Says Silverfield: "It guarantees compliance."

Since being diagnosed with osteoporosis three years ago, Mercedes Karl tried pills taken daily, once a week and once a month, hoping to hit on one she could remember to take. But nothing clicked with her routine.

Last year, she decided to try Reclast, which takes 15 minutes to infuse intravenously at a doctor's office or infusion center. "It's easy for me to do," says Karl, 70. "I don't have to take a pill every day. I'm notified in advance of my appointment. It's very short and relatively painless."

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 10 million Americans have osteoporosis. Most patients are women, but men get it, too. More than half of all Americans over age 50 are at risk for the disease, the foundation estimates, making it a major public health threat.

Unlike oral medications for osteoporosis, Reclast is unlikely to cause stomach problems. And it's an option for patients who can't remain fully upright for at least 30 minutes, a requirement with some of the oral drugs.

Reclast is approved for use in post-menopausal women with osteoporosis and osteopenia; it's also for men with osteoporosis, and for people at risk for osteoporosis caused by steroid medication use.

Silverfield explains it's not appropriate, for example, for a woman with normal bone density whose major risk factor is family history. "The risk-benefit ratio doesn't make sense," he says. Some side effects include flu-like joint pain that goes away, more serious bone pain, abnormal heart rhythms and rarely, jaw pain and jaw fracture.

Helpful as Reclast can be, doctors agree the real key is prevention. "The problem with osteoporosis, especially early on, is it's painless and you can't see it,'' said Dr. Jodi Shields, a physical medicine specialist at Florida Orthopaedic Institute in Tampa.

Preventing bone loss starts in childhood, she said.

• Make sure children, especially adolescent, teen and college-age girls, get adequate calcium, vitamin D and weight-bearing exercise every day.

• There may be a correlation between osteoporosis and fizzy beverages, both diet and regular. Until all the research is in, Shields recommends limiting soda consumption to no more than two a day.

• Smoking and drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day are also bad for your bones.

"All things in moderation,'' she said. "Except smoking, that's never okay.''

Irene Maher can be reached at or (813) 226-3416.


Build stronger bones

Bones get stronger when you make them work against gravity with activities such as:

High- and low-impact aerobics, hiking, walking, jogging, running, dancing, jumping rope, tennis, lifting weights, using elastic exercise bands

Activities that are good for you, but don't build bone include:

Bike riding, swimming, water aerobics, stretching exercises

Calcium and vitamin D needs depend on your age:

• Children up to age 18 need between 500 and 1,300 mg calcium and 400 IU vitamin D daily.

• Adults need 1,000 to 1,200 mg calcium a day, more if you're pregnant and 400 to 1,000 IU vitamin D daily.

• For more information, go to the National Osteoporosis Foundation's Web site: .

Reclast now both treats and prevents osteoporosis 06/17/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 6:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  2. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona


    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand


    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  5. Hillsborough County erects wooden barrier to protect Confederate monument from vandalism

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County workers began constructing a wooden barrier around the base of the Confederate monument by the old county courthouse Thursday evening.

    A Hillsborough County construction crew erects a wooden barrier around the Confederate monument at the old county courthouse Thursday, out of concern about potential vandalism. [Courtesy of WTSP]