Osteoporosis treatment may also protect against pneumonia

The nitrogen containing bisphosphonates (N-BPs) medications such as alendronate widely used to treat postmenopausal osteoporosis are linked with lower risks of pneumonia and of dying from pneumonia, say researchers.

Osteoporosis is a medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.

“The objective of this work was to study the risk of pneumonia and pneumonia mortality among patients receiving N-BPs medications, non-N-BP medications, and no anti-osteoporosis medications after hip fracture,” the study authors from the University of Hong Kong wrote.

Results from previous animal studies indicate that N-BP treatment leads to a high concentration of N-BPs in the respiratory tract.

For the current findings, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the research team included 4,041 patients with hip fractures who received N-BPs and 11,802 who did not.

Over a median follow-up time of 2.7 years, The findings showed that N-BPs was associated with a 24 per cent lower risk of pneumonia compared with no treatment (69 versus 90 cases per 1,000 people per year).

A similar association was observed with pneumonia mortality, with a 35 per cent lower risk associated with N-BPs (23 versus 35 per 1,000 patients per year for the N-BP and non-N-BP groups, respectively), the researchers said.

Together with its anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory properties, this may explain why N-BPs were associated with reduced risk of pneumonia, as revealed in our study,” said study senior author Ching-Lung Cheung from the University of Hong Kong.

He added that studying the potential of N-BPs for treating symptoms of COVID-19 may be warranted.