Make us your home page
Instagram

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 imaher@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3416.

. FAST FACTS

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: www.nof.org .

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

Loading...
  1. Forecast: Hot, humid and mostly dry conditions prevail for St. Pete Pride weekend

    Weather

    The threat of any lingering effects from Tropical Storm Cindy have passed, leaving behind a relatively dry — but hot and humid — St. Pete Pride weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast [WTSP]
  2. Florida Insiders: The state parties are dying; 'I heard someone long for the leadership of Jim Greer'

    Blogs

    For all the attention on Florida Democratic Chairman Stephen Bittel's bone headed gaffe this week, the diminished state of the once mighty Florida GOP today compared to even a few years ago is arguably more striking than the condition of the long-suffering Florida Democratic Party. A decade ago, no one would have …

    Florida Insider Poll
  3. Florida Democrats surging with grassroots enthusiasm, but 2018 reality is grim

    State Roundup

    After Donald Trump's election, so many people started showing up at monthly Pinellas County Democratic Party meetings, the group had to start forking out more money for a bigger room.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses Florida Democrats at the Leadership Blue Gala on June 17 in Hollywood, Fla. (Photo by Carol Porter)
  4. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where cCondominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  5. Walmart opens first Pinellas County in-house training academy

    Retail

    Seminole — It had all the hallmarks of a typical graduation: robe-clad graduates marching in to Pomp and Circumstance, friends and family packed together under a sweltering tent and a lineup of speakers encouraging the graduates to take charge of their future.

    New Walmart Academy graduates are congratulated Thursday morning by associates during a graduation ceremony at the Walmart store, 10237 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg. The Walmart location is one of the company's training academies where managers complete a one week retail course. David Shultz and Richard Sheehan, both from St. Petersburg, get high fives from the crowd.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]