Indexed on: 01 Feb '01Published on: 01 Feb '01Published in: Osteoporosis International
Fractures due to osteoporosis are one of the major complications after heart transplantation, occurring mostly during the first 6 months after the graft, with an incidence ranging from 18% to 50% for vertebral fractures. Bone mineral density (BMD) decreases dramatically following the graft, at trabecular sites as well as cortical sites. This is explained by the relatively high doses of glucocorticoids used during the months following the graft, and by a long-term increase of bone turnover which is probably due to cyclosporine. There is some evidence for a beneficial effect on BMD of antiresorptive treatments after heart transplantation. The aim of this study was to assess prospectively the effect on BMD of a 3-year treatment of quarterly infusions of 60 mg of pamidronate, combined with 1 g calcium and 1000 U vitamin D per day, in osteoporotic heart transplant recipients, and that of a treatment with calcium and vitamin D in heart transplant recipients with no osteoporosis. BMD of the lumbar spine and the femoral neck was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in all patients every 6 months for 2 years and after 3 years. Seventeen patients, (1 woman, 16 men) aged 46 ± 4 years (mean ± SEM) received only calcium and vitamin D. A significant decrease in BMD was observed after 6 months following the graft, at the lumbar spine (−6.6%) as well as at the femoral neck (−7.8%). After 2 years, BMD tended to recover at the lumbar spine, whereas the loss persisted after 3 years at the femoral neck. Eleven patients (1 woman and 10 men) aged 46 ± 4 years (mean ± SEM) started treatment with pamidronate on average 6 months after the graft, because they had osteoporosis of the lumbar spine and/or femoral neck (BMD T-score below −2.5 SD). Over the whole treatment period, a continuous increase in BMD at the lumbar spine was noticed, reaching 18.3% after 3 years (14.3% compared with the BMD at the time of the graft). BMD at the femoral neck was lowered in the first year by −3.4%, but recovered totally after 3 years of treatment. In conclusion, a 3-year study of treatment with pamidronate given every 3 months to patients with existing osteoporosis led to a significant increase in lumbar spine BMD and prevented loss at the femoral neck. However, since some of these patients were treated up to 14 months after the transplant, they may already have passed through the phase of most rapid bone loss. In patients who were not osteoporotic at baseline, treatment with calcium and vitamin D alone was not able to prevent the rapid bone loss that occurs immediately after transplantation.