Osteoporosis treatment is less common among people with dementia

A study conducted by Swedish scientists has concluded that among elderly people with osteoporosis, those who suffer from dementia are less likely than their peers to receive treatments for progressive bone loss.

The group, which hailed from the Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University, concluded as much after combing through the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care - Kungsholmen (SNAC-K) for medical data on more than 2,600 people over the age of 65. All of these individuals suffered from some level of osteoporosis.

Researchers found that SNAC-K participants who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or another form of cognitive degeneration were one-third less likely to take osteoporosis medications, compared to mentally healthy individuals.

Analysis of medical data indicated that 5 percent of mentally declining patients took vitamin D, calcium, bisphosphonates or raloxifene for low bone density. By contrast, 12 percent of cognitively stable people did the same.

After accounting for factors like advanced age, gender, fractures and institutionalization, individuals with dementia were still 34 percent less likely to use osteoporosis medications of any kind.

The study's authors also noticed that patients with dementia were much more likely to have suffered at least one osteoporosis-related fracture in the prior four years.

While 7 percent of mentally healthy individuals had suffered such an injury, 25 percent of patients with dementia had experienced the same.

The team concluded that mental decline may put elderly people at risk for being offered few or no osteoporosis treatment options. Researchers also noted that this association was strongest among patients over the age of 80, since dementia was the most prevalent in that group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that for every five years that an individual lives past the age of 65, their risk of being diagnosed with dementia doubles.

Alzheimer's disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and unlike osteoporosis, it cannot be prevented, treated or even delayed, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
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