Shah SK, Gecys GT. Prednisone-Induced Osteoporosis: An Overlooked and Undertreated Adverse Effect. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2006;106(11):653–657. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2006.106.11.653.
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Context: Glucocorticoids are used for a variety of medical conditions. This class of drugs is arguably the most common cause of iatrogenic osteoporosis, but studies have shown that physicians are not investigating and treating glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis.
Objective: To determine whether primary care physicians (osteopathic and allopathic) are evaluating and treating adult patients at risk for osteoporosis secondary to long-term prednisone use.
Methods: Electronic medical records from three primary care practices (family medicine, geriatric medicine, and internal medicine) were retrospectively reviewed to identify patients who were taking at least 2.5 mg of prednisone per day for 8 weeks or longer. Records were then grouped according to whether patients had undergone bone mineral density screening and had been given therapy to prevent or treat bone loss. Whether patients had comorbid risk factors for secondary osteoporosis (according to the National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference Statement on Osteoporosis) was noted to determine whether treatment was given because of prednisone use or because of the comorbid risk factors. Statistical analysis was performed using a Pearson product moment correlation 2-tailed χ2 test.
Results: The medical records of 49 patients met inclusion criteria (19 men, 30 women; mean age, 61 years; age range, 21–89 years). A statistically significant difference was found in physician evaluation practices for patients with vs patients without comorbid risk factors (82.1% vs 38.1%; P=.002).
Conclusion: Primary care physicians do not routinely evaluate patients for osteoporosis secondary to glucocorticoid treatment, especially when patients do not have comorbid risk factors for osteoporosis.
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