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Pharmacological treatment of osteoporosis in the oldest old

Authors Vandenbroucke A, Luyten FP, Flamaing J, Gielen E

Received 24 December 2016

Accepted for publication 3 March 2017

Published 6 July 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 1065—1077

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S131023

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Akshita Wason

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


A Vandenbroucke,1 FP Luyten,2,3 J Flamaing,4 E Gielen3,4

1Clinical Department of Internal Medicine, UZ Leuven, 2Skeletal Biology and Engineering, Department of Development and Regeneration, KU Leuven, 3Center for Metabolic Bone Disease, UZ Leuven, 4Gerontology and Geriatrics, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Abstract: The incidence of osteoporotic fractures increases with age. Consequently, the global prevalence of osteoporotic fractures will increase with the aging of the population. In old age, osteoporosis is associated with a substantial burden in terms of morbidity and mortality. Nevertheless, osteoporosis in old age continues to be underdiagnosed and undertreated. This may, at least partly, be explained by the fact that evidence of the antifracture efficacy of osteoporosis treatments comes mainly from randomized controlled trials in postmenopausal women with a mean age of 70–75 years. However, in the last years, subgroup analyses of these landmark trials have been published investigating the efficacy and safety of osteoporosis treatment in the very elderly. Based on this evidence, this narrative review discusses the pharmacological management of osteoporosis in the oldest old (≥80 years). Because of the high prevalence of calcium and/or vitamin D deficiency in old age, these supplements are essential in the management of osteoporosis in the elderly people. Adding antiresorptive or anabolic treatments or combinations, thereof, reduces the risk of vertebral fractures even more, at least in the elderly with documented osteoporosis. The reduction of hip fracture risk by antiresorptive treatments is less convincing, which may be explained by insufficient statistical power in some subanalyses and/or a higher impact of nonskeletal risk factors in the occurrence of hip fractures. Compared with younger individuals, a larger absolute risk reduction is observed in the elderly because of the higher baseline fracture risk. Therefore, the elderly will benefit more of treatment. In addition, current osteoporosis therapies also appear to be safe in the elderly. Although more research is required to further clarify the effect of osteoporosis drugs in the elderly, especially with respect to hip fractures, there is currently sufficient evidence to initiate appropriate treatment in the elderly with osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures.

Keywords: oldest old, vulnerability, antiresorptives, anabolics, efficacy, safety

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