Healthy Bones Could Mean a Healthy Heart

Heart attacks less likely in patients taking bisphosphonates for osteoporosis

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) The heart needs blood pumping in and out of it to keep us alive. When arteries become clogged up with fat, cholesterol and other unhealthy stuff, the blood can't flow.

A recent study found that patients taking bisphosphonates reduced their risk of heart attacks. This type of medication is prescribed to patients with osteoporosis. It prevents the loss of bone mass.

Animal research has shown bisphosphonates to have a secondary benefit of preventing problems that can lead to heart attacks. These drugs block the forming of plaque around the arteries which take blood to the heart.

A building up of plaque can lead to a heart attack. The plaque narrows and hardens the arteries and prevents the heart from getting blood.

"Take medicine to help strengthen your bones "

Dr. Jiunn-Horng Kang, of Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, and colleagues led the study to find out if taking bisphophonates reduced the risk of heart attacks in human patients.

The study followed 1,548 patients that were taking the medication for bone fractures that result from loss of bone mass. It also followed 4,644 patients with bone fractures who did not take the medication. Patients were followed for two years.

Results showed that only six patients in the group taking the medication had heart attacks. In the group not receiving the medication, 49 patients had heart attacks. This means that patients taking the medication had a significantly lower risk of having a heart attack.

The study authors suggested that "bisphosphonates could potentially be used as a dual effect treatment in the prevention of cardiovascular events among osteoporotic populations."

The authors noted several limitations in the study. The study was conducted based on events in the past and could not always be further investigated. The study did not include any patients without bone fractures and results are not known for the general population. Data did not include any additional information that may have accounted for the differences, such as unhealthy behaviors and other prescribed medications. They also did not know if the patients took the bisphophonates regularly.

The study - titled "Bisphophonates reduced the risk of acute myocardial infarction: a 2-year follow up study" - was published online in Osteoporosis International. It was supported by National Health Insurance Research Database provided by the Bureau of National Health Insurance, Department of Health, Taiwan and managed by the National Health Research Institutes. Dr. Jiunn-Horng Kang and co-authors disclosed no conflict of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 8, 2013
Last Updated:
January 14, 2013