Recognizing and treating glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis in patients with pulmonary diseases

Chest. 2004 May;125(5):1859-76. doi: 10.1378/chest.125.5.1859.


Glucocorticoids are frequently used to treat patients with pulmonary diseases, but continuous long-term use of glucocorticoids may lead to significant bone loss and an increased risk of fragility fractures. Patients with certain lung diseases, regardless of pharmacotherapy-particularly COPD and cystic fibrosis-and patients waiting for lung transplantation are also at increased risk of osteoporosis. Fragility fractures, especially of the hip, will have substantial effects on the health and well-being of older patients. Vertebral collapse and kyphosis secondary to glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (GIO) may affect lung function. Identification of patients with osteopenia, osteoporosis, or fragility fractures related to osteoporosis is strongly recommended and should lead to appropriate treatment. Prevention of GIO in patients receiving continuous oral glucocorticoids is also recommended. In patients receiving either high-dose inhaled glucocorticoids or low- to medium-dose inhaled glucocorticoids with frequent courses of oral glucocorticoids, bone mineral density measurements should be performed to screen for osteopenia and osteoporosis. A bisphosphonate (risedronate or alendronate), calcium and vitamin D supplementation, and lifestyle modifications are recommended for the prevention and treatment of GIO.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Decision Trees
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Osteoporosis / chemically induced*
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis
  • Osteoporosis / therapy
  • Risk


  • Glucocorticoids