Longitudinal practice patterns of prophylaxis of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica

Rheumatol Int. 2014 Oct;34(10):1459-63. doi: 10.1007/s00296-014-3014-2. Epub 2014 Apr 12.


The aim of this study was to analyze the longitudinal practice patterns of prophylaxis of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). Patients diagnosed with PMR were collected retrospectively in two rheumatology departments. In addition to demographic and diagnostic criteria, the chart review included the following information at baseline and at follow-up: doses of prednisone, prescription of calcium, vitamin D and bisphosphonates, bone mass measurement (BMD) and fragility fractures. We analyzed the percentage of patients undergoing BMD and were prescribed a bisphosphonate over the years. We evaluated 158 patients: 117 of them were women, mean age was 73 years, and they had an average follow-up of 4.8 years. 104 patients (66 %) received osteoporosis medication during the first visit, 44 of them were given bisphosphonate. During follow-up, another 30 treatments with bisphosphonate were added (46 % overall) while 37 cases (23 %) received no treatment with calcium or bisphosphonate. BMD was performed in 111 patients (69 %; 53 % of males and 76 % of females). Factors associated with the use of bisphosphonates were female sex (OR 4.4, 95 % CI 4.02-4.86), BMD (OR 2.4, 95 % CI 2.05-2.78) and commencement of treatment after the year 2005 (54 vs 37 %, OR 1.93, 95 % CI 1.60-2.26). No significant differences were found with age, initial doses of prednisone or the hospital. According to recent prevention guidelines, treatment with biphosphonate should have been administered in more than 90 % of patients. Although prophylaxis of glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis in patients with PMR has increased in the recent years, many patients do not receive prophylaxis with bisphosphonate during the first visit.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / pharmacology
  • Bone Density Conservation Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Diphosphonates / pharmacology
  • Diphosphonates / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / chemically induced
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / drug therapy*
  • Radiography
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Bone Density Conservation Agents
  • Diphosphonates
  • Glucocorticoids