Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bone Medication May Save Knees

According to research presented this week at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., a daily dose of strontium ranelate -- a medication prescribed for osteoporosis -- may delaBone Medication May Save Kneesy knee osteoarthritis progression. The study also revealed that taking strontium ranelate may improve knee pain, reduce joint damage and the need for surgery. Knee osteoarthritis is caused by cartilage breakdown in the knee joint. Factors that increase the risk of knee osteoarthritis include obesity, age, prior injury to the knee, extreme stress to the joints, and family history. In 2005, 27 million Americans suffered from osteoarthritis, and one in two people will have symptomatic knee arthritis by age 85. Strontium ranelate is an osteoporosis treatment proven to prevent vertebral and hip fractures. In non-clinical studies, strontium ranelate was shown to stimulate bone mass by slowing the breakdown of bone and stimulating new bone growth, having a positive effect on cartilage. Current OA treatments focus on improving disease symptoms through a combination of medication and non-pharmaceutical therapy, but there is currently no treatment approved to delay the progression of the disease. An international group of researchers recently evaluated if strontium ranelate was effective in reducing joint damage and symptoms caused by knee OA. "Osteoarthritis is the most common disease in the elderly and there are currently major unmet medical needs in OA disease management," says Jean-Yves Reginster, MD, PhD, lead investigator in the study and president and chair, department of public health sciences at the University of Liège in Belgium. "There is currently no medication, approved by regulatory authorities to prevent the structural progression of the disease." The Strontium Ranelate Knee Osteoarthritis Trial (also called SEKOIA) studied 1,683 participants with symptomatic primary knee OA over a three-year period. Participants were divided into three groups and randomly selected to receive strontium ranelate or placebo. Participants given strontium ranelate received one or two gram(s) daily dosage. Joint damage was evaluated yearly using digital X-rays. Also, using a computer assisted method, researchers measured knee joint space width, which correlates with cartilage loss. Researchers also evaluated symptoms such as pain, stiffness and changes in physical function using validated tools such as the WOMAC questionnaire. Of the 1,683 participants, 82 percent (or 1,371) completed the study. Sixty-nine percent of the participants were female with average age 63 years-old, average body mass index (also called BMI) of 30±5 kg/m2, and average joint space width measuring 3.5 millimeters. Based on a test that measured disease progression, 60 percent of the patients had mild (stage two) and 40 percent moderate (stage three) knee OA. Researchers noted that strontium ranelate was associated with a decrease in joint damage. After one year, cartilage loss in both groups assessed by the joint space width was -0.23±0.56 mm with 1g/day;-0.27±0.63 mm with 2g/day and -0.37±0.59 mm with placebo. The differences between treatment and placebo groups were 0.14 mm for 1g/day and 0.10 mm for 2g/day. Researchers also noted that strontium ranelate was effective in reducing pain and improving physical function. Overall, treatment with strontium ranelate was well tolerated, with no significant difference in adverse events between both treatment groups and placebo. Additionally, the safety of strontium ranelate was consistent with what was previously observed in osteoporosis. "Strontium ranelate is a drug approved in 102 countries for the management of post-menopausal osteoporosis, which has been proven to be safe when used for ten years in this particular indication. Results of the present trial show also its ability to reduce the progression of osteoarthritis. This could be a major step in the global management of musculo-skeletal disorders in the elderly subjects," says Dr. Reginster. Patients should talk to their rheumatologists to determine their best course of treatment.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Knee Replacement Lowers Risk for Mortality and Heart Failure


New research presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) highlights the benefits of total knee replacement (TKR) in elderly patients with osteoarthritis, including a lower probability of heart failure and mortality.

Investigators reviewed Medicare records to identify osteoarthritis patients, separating them into two groups – those who underwent TKR to relieve symptoms, and those who did not. Outcomes of interest included average annual Medicare payments for related care, mortality, and new diagnoses of congestive heart failure, diabetes and depression. Differences in costs and risk ratios were adjusted for multiple variables including age, sex, race and region. The results (adjusted for underlying health conditions) were compared at fixed periods of one year, three years, five years and seven years after surgery.

The seven-year cumulative average Medicare payments for all treatments were $63,940 for the non-TKR group, and $83,783 for the TKR group, for an incremental increased seven-year cost of $19,843. The cost does not include prescription drugs, which are reportedly much higher in the non-TKR group.

There were significant positives in the osteoarthritis TKR group: the risk of mortality was half that of the non-TKR group and the congestive heart failure rate also was lower, at three, five and seven years after surgery. There was no difference in diabetes rates among both groups. Depression rates were slightly higher in the TKR group during the first three years after surgery, though there was no difference at five and seven years.

“These patients had improved survivorship and reduced risk for cardiovascular conditions,” said Scott Lovald, PhD, MBA, lead investigator and senior associate at Exponent, Inc. “More specifically, total knee replacement in osteoarthritis patients may reduce patient mortality by half. There are few health care investments that are so cost effective.”