Connection between lung and bone problems

There’s a new connection between lung problems and bone problems. A new study urges the importance of screening for osteoporosis in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). The association between the two is very significant.

Diane M. Biskobing, M.D., of the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, stresses the importance of doctors screening for bone loss in patients. She says as many as 36 percent to 60 percent of patients with COPD also have osteoporosis. This condition means they have low bone mass, which can lead to fractures. Research shows most patients don’t have any symptoms of the disease, until they fall and fracture a bone.

“The prevention of osteoporosis in COPD patients is dependent on an awareness of the magnitude of the problem, ” writes Dr. Biskobing. She recommends patients be screened for osteoporosis when they are given the diagnosis of COPD. Also, she believes patients who are taking medications called glucocorticoid therapy should be considered for preventive therapy for osteoporosis.

There are several treatments available to prevent bone loss. They range from physical therapy to calcium and vitamins supplementation to medications. She writes, “Awareness of the problem and of strategies to prevent the development of osteoporosis during the course of COPD therapy are essential to increase bone mass density and, likely, to decrease the incidence of fractures in these patients.”

SOURCE: Chest, 2002;121:609-620

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