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Bone Loss Prevention for Stroke Patients

Researchers have been reviewing a variety of studies to understand the relationship between strokes and osteoporosis. Two Swedish studies found that stroke victims were four times more likely to experience a hip fracture than others their age. Another study found that over half of 100 stroke patients had experienced a fall within six months of their stroke, while most fractures were on the same side of the body as the side paralyzed by stroke. Yet another study showed that many who are paralyzed by a stroke develop osteoporosis in the paralyzed limb.

What is the overall conclusion? Those who have suffered a stroke experience a deterioration of bone due to osteoporosis and are at an elevated risk for fractures. Researchers are asking for bone-loss prevention measures as part of the regular routine treatment and care of stroke patients, including vitamin D supplements, calcium supplements and hip protectors.

Causes and Potential Treatments

As a natural part of body maintenance, healthy bones go through a phase of deterioration and regeneration. During this time, old bone tissue is broken down and new bone is created to replace it. A person with osteoporosis will experience the deterioration much quicker, while they will experience bone regeneration much slower. Researchers think this process may be heightened after a stroke, causing the deteriorating cells to overreact.

While vitamin D, calcium and hip protectors are useful, researchers are looking at another treatment: Bisphosphonates.

Bisphosphonates have been used to treat postmenopausal women with osteoporosis by preventing the cells from breaking down the bone tissue. The bisphosponates are given to the women in pill form and requires them to stand or at least sit up for 30 minutes after taking the pill. Researchers are suggesting that administering bisphosponates intravenously to stroke patients eliminating the need to sit up or stand - may be the answer.

The Not-So-Final Word

While many experts agree that osteoporosis seems to be linked to stroke and feel that taking early measures can be helpful, they are conducting further research to examine the value of bisphosphonates in stroke patients. They have also pointed out that this would only be one aspect of stroke rehabilitation, that osteoporosis follows any limb immobility complications and that a majority of strokes happen to those over 70 years of age, who are already at risk for osteoporosis.

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