Heart Drug Helps Osteoporosis
Virginia Neumaier takes thiazide to lower her blood pressure. This little pink tablet has long been used as a diuretic and now, may also prevent osteoporosis.
"It's very reassuring to think I was doing a double-good thing," says Virginia.
The findings come from a study of more than 300 older adults. Women who took 25 milligrams of thiazide each day for three years ended up having bone density that was about 1% better than women who took placebo for the three years. Over time, that increase adds up. Researcher Andrea Lacroix says other studies show long-term use can reduce the risk of hip fractures by 30%. That's especially important for post-menopausal women like Virginia. She was on hormone replacement therapy in an effort to prevent osteoporosis, until another study showed it increases the risk for breast cancer and heart attacks.
"Without that medicine as an option, it's nice to know there are other medicines that can preserve bone density," says Lacroix.
The other advantage is the cost. A three-month supply costs less than five dollars. Since thiazide is not a big money maker, Lacroix says drug companies don't study or promote it which is part of the reason many doctors and patients don't know about the added benefit.
People who take thiazide are encouraged to eat foods high in potassium, since the medicine can lower your potassium levels.