Post-menopausal women with osteoporosis who have had a previous spinal fracture and who take alendronate are at 51 % lower risk of debilitating hip fractures and 46% lower risk of new spinal fractures, according to UCSF researchers.
Other key findings reported include: 89% reduction in multiple (two or more) spinal fractures, 57% reduction in painful spinal fractures, 44% percent reduction in wrist fractures, and 50% reduction in loss of height.
"This is the first study to show a reduction in hip fractures in a general population of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis," says Dennis Black, PhD, UCSF Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. "The results are exciting and significant, because nearly all hip fractures require hospitalization," Black says, "and up to 20% of women who suffer hip fractures die within a year."
Hip fractures are the most costly fractures. In the U.S., for example, the annual cost of hip fractures is estimated at $10 billion.
The findings are from the first arm of the landmark Fracture Intervention Trial (FIT), a UCSF-coordinated study that includes 6,459 women at 11 academic sites across the U.S. The first arm of FIT is known as the Vertebral Fracture Study, in which 2,027 women ages 55 to 80 with previous spinal fractures were enrolled.
An independent panel of experts that monitored the study data made the decision to halt the threeyear Vertebral Fracture Study last October because they felt the results were so positive that it would be unethical to keep treating some women with a placebo, Black says. The study had been scheduled to run through June 1996.