Long-term use of loop diuretics tied to drop in bone density but short-term use safe, researchers say
TUESDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The short-term use of heart failure drugs called loop diuretics does not appear to increase the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women, a new study finds, but their effect over the long term is less clear.
Loop diuretics include widely used medicines such as Lasix, Bumex and Demadex, which are commonly prescribed to patients with congestive heart failure. Because these medications increase the loss of calcium, there has been a concern that they might reduce bone mineral density, increasing users' risk for fractures.
However, "much of the association that may have been blaming loop diuretics may have really been a result of the other health problems that women had," said study co-author Dr. Karen Johnson, vice chairwoman of the department of preventive medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, in Memphis.
Johnson believes that doctors should still pay attention to bone mineral density when starting women on loop diuretics. "You probably want to make sure people are following the recommendations to prevent osteoporosis, including taking calcium and vitamin D supplements," she said.
The report is published in the Jan. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For the study, Johnson's group collected data on almost 134,000 American women who participated in the Women's Health Initiative from October 1993 to December 1998. During 7.7 years of follow-up, the researchers recorded all falls and fractures reported by the women.
Among the women, more than 3,400 were taking loop diuretics. The researchers found no significant association between loop diuretics and fractures, including hip fractures, spine fractures and falls.
However, there did appear to be a small increase in fractures among women who took loo
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