Osteoporosis Patients should be taking Calcium and Vitamin D combination treatment
Posted Nov 21 2008 4:29pm
New research suggests that only 43% of osteoporosis patients across Europe take calcium and vitamin D supplements in combination.
This figure is worrying because this kind of combination therapy maximises the benefits of supplementation. The study was published at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR).
Professor Steven Boonen of Leuven University, Belgium said: “Patients with a low intake of calcium and vitamin D may not be receiving the full benefit of their osteoporosis treatment if they do not take enough supplementation.” He added: “It is important that patients not only take both their calcium and vitamin D supplements, but also to ensure that they take them regularly”.
383 women diagnosed with osteoporosis and aged 50 years and above were surveyed across France, Germany, Spain, and the UK. The study’s objectives were to discover the level of knowledge amongst patients, and their actual self-treatment behaviour. Researchers found that up to 30% regularly miss a dose of supplementation. This group were either unconvinced of the benefits of combined supplementation, or felt they had not been fully informed of the benefits. Other information collected through the study revealed that 70% of patients would be more inclined to take the medication regularly if it was available in the helpful packaging ie calcium and vitamin D in one packet instead of two.
The research also showed differences between the countries surveyed: Spain was the leader in regular supplementation behaviour, with 90% taking the combination treatment, compared with 61% in the UK and 69% in France. The Spanish also came out top for discussing osteoporosis treatment with their doctors, with the UK coming in last. UK patients were the lowest users of supplements and did not recognise the importance of combination supplementation, nor were they likely to discuss treatment with their doctors. This highlights a treatment compliance problem in the UK that is suspected in the treatment of other conditions.
Doctor Patrice Fardellone from CHU Amiens Hospital, France said: “The disparities between countries in attitudes to supplementation may be due to differences in cultures, national health policies or local disease awareness initiatives.” She added: “Whilst this research has shown some positive results, there is still room for improvement. It is vital that clinicians continue to educate their patients on the importance of supplements and encourage them to see supplementation as part of complete osteoporosis treatment.”
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects more women than men, and usually occurs around the age of 50 when the body almost stops producing oestrogen. This weakens the bones, and increases susceptibility to fracture. A 50-year-old woman has around a 40% lifetime risk of suffering a fracture due to osteoporosis, and the disease accounts for around 1.6 million hip fractures worldwide per year.