Clinical Trials & Research

Are statins good for osteoporosis prevention?

A recent study on over 7 million medical records found a dose-dependent correlation between statins and osteoporosis diagnosis.

Statins are a class of cholesterol-lowering medications prescribed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders. Statins act by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, which is the main enzyme involved in cholesterol biosynthesis, thus effectively lowering LDL cholesterol in blood circulation.

Osteoporosis is a disease of bone weakness, triggered by imbalanced bone metabolism and associated with increased risk of fractures, affecting a patient’s quality of life and imposing an economical burden. Previous studies have shown a protective effect on osteoporosis onset in the statin-treated population, however, these studies did not take into consideration the different statin types and dosages.

A recent study was designed to systematically analyze over 7 million medical records to search for a possible correlation between different statins, at different dosages and osteoporosis diagnosis.

The total dataset, derived from Austrian medical records, included 7, 897, 449 patients (male=3 702 572; female=4 194 877), which provided information on medical diagnoses and prescribed medications from 2006-2007. All patients treated with statins were classified based on six different types of statins and assigned dosages.

The study found a protective effect of low-dose statin treatment (0–10 mg per day) on risk of osteoporosis as compared to patients without statin therapy, with a clear increase in osteoporosis diagnosis at high statin dosage at 40 mg threshold for simvastatin and 20 mg for atorvastatin and for rosuvastatin.

The researchers concluded that there is a dose-related correlation between statin therapy and the risk of osteoporosis. With such results, the authors suggest that a patient at high risk of developing osteoporosis (e.g., women at menopausal age receiving statins) should be carefully monitored for bone metabolism and treated accordingly.

Written by Bella Groisman

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