Home' The Wellingtonian : March 1st 2012 Contents 15
THE WELLINGTONIAN, MARCH 1, 2012
Osteoporosis: Once-yearly treatment option available
for New Zealand patients
Aclasta® (zoledronic acid 5mg) is a prescription medicine for the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis and the treatment of Paget's disease of the bone. Aclasta is an
infusion and contains 5mg of zoledronic acid. Check with your doctor to see if Aclasta is right for you. Aclasta is fully funded for patients who meet specified criteria. Funding does not include the cost of infusion and normal doctors and
prescription charges will apply. Do not use if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Not recommended in patients with kidney impairment or in children and adolescents. Caution while under dental treatment or if dental treatment is planned.
Calcium, hydration status and kidney function may be assessed by your doctor before and after you are given Aclasta. Adverse effects are usually mild and transient. Common side effects are flu-like symptoms consisting of fever, fatigue,
chills, and bone, joint, and/or muscle pain; anaemia; headache; dizziness, transient low blood calcium; gastrointestinal symptoms, renal impairment, breathing difficulty and lethargy. Very rarely osteonecrosis of the jaw has been reported.
If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your doctor. Aclasta is the registered trademark of Novartis AG. Novartis New Zealand Limited, Auckland. For further information check the Consumer Medicine Information(CMI) at w w w.
medsafe.govt.nz. ACL 0112-144-0114 TAPS NA5538 INSIGHT4556 WEL
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a serious and widespread
health condition that affects more than
350,000 people in New Zealand. According
to Osteoporosis New Zealand, over 50% of
women and nearly 1/3rd of men over the age
of 60 have the disease.
The word osteoporosis literally means porous
(spongy) bone. As the mineral (e.g. calcium)
density and quality of bone is reduced and
becomes more fragile, sufferers develop
an increased risk of bone fractures (cracks
or breaks). The most common sites for
osteoporosis-related fractures are in the
hip, spine, wrist, ribs, pelvis and upper
arm, although any part of the skeleton
can be affected.
It is often referred to as the 'silent disease' as
most sufferers don't know they have it until
they break a bone as a result of a fairly minor
fall or accident. Furthermore, there is a higher
subsequent rate of death and only a minority
regain their former level of independence.
Osteoporosis has a significant impact on the
New Zealand population in terms of quality
of life and cost of care. Our ageing population
means that by 2020 the number of people
who break a hip each year is likely to increase
to more than 5,000, and it will cost more than
$148 million to treat them.
Risk and prevention
Hereditary factors mean that some people
are at more risk of developing osteoporosis
than others. However, the good news is that
osteoporosis is a preventable disease. While
bones naturally degenerate over time, a few
common sense lifestyle decisions can help
your bones stay strong and healthy.
Eat a calcium rich diet. A calcium-rich diet
will help protect your bone density. As well
as eating low-fat dairy products, such as milk,
yoghurt and cheese, you can increase your
calcium intake by eating leafy green vegetables,
like broccoli and spinach.
Get some Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps calcium
absorption. Most young people get enough
Vitamin D through a healthy diet and careful
exposure to the sun, but many older people
are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D
supplements are available.
Exercise. Regular exercise can also help prevent
osteoporosis. For general good health, the
World Health Organisation recommends adults
aged 18--64 should do at least 150 minutes of
moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity
Don't smoke! Smoking can lower estrogen
levels in women, and testosterone in men,
which can weaken bones.
Watch your alcohol. Heavy drinking should be
avoided as intoxicated people are at increased
risk of a fall and excessive alcohol makes it
difficult for your body's cells to make bone.
Low body weight can also increase a person's
risk of osteoporosis.
Even for those who already have osteoporosis,
addressing the risk factors -- diet, low physical
activity, smoking, alcohol and low weight - can
decrease the risk of bone fractures.
People who take steroids (such as prednisone)
for other medical conditions are also at
increased risk of osteoporosis, as they can
affect the production of bone. Anyone taking
steroids should discuss bone protection with
There are a number of osteoporosis treatment
options available to New Zealanders. Talk
to your doctor about which option is right
Aclasta (zoledronic acid) is a convenient once-
yearly treatment option. Aclasta belongs to a
class of medicines called ''bisphosphonates''
which help to make your bones stronger as
well as reducing the risk of them breaking.
Aclasta is an IV infusion that is given over at
least 15 minutes, and can be administered
by a GP or Practice Nurse. With Aclasta, a
single yearly treatment, along with adequate
calcium intake, helps to increase bone density,
protecting and strengthening your bones.
Aclasta is fully funded for patients who
meet specified criteria, although patients
who choose once-yearly Aclasta treatment
will have to pay for the cost of the infusion.
For more information on Aclasta talk to your
GP, or visit www.aclasta.co.nz
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