It's one of the most frustrating health challenges among the elderly, broken hips.
An estimated 300,000 hip fractures happen every year.
Most among seniors who have osteoporosis and are likely to break another bone in the near future if they survive recovery.
But a new treatment strategy may help change that fate.
It's a birthday Jean Brown will never forget.
Jean Brown, who has osteoporosis, says "somebody hollered to me and said have a great day and I turned around real quickly went down, and that was it that was my birthday present!."
A fall that landed Jean in the hospital with a broken hip. A serious injury that often comes with deadly consequences, says Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Wael Barsoum.
Dr. Barsoum says "5% of those patients will die within thirty days of that particular fracture that's a fairly significant number."
And patients, like Jean Brown, who recover are at high risk for another break. Jean landed n a trial to test a new medicine zoledronic acid.
It is in the same class as drugs like fosomax but given only once a year by IV. The latest research out of Duke University suggests the drug significantly reduces the risk of a second hip fracture and of death.
Dr. Barsoum says "the reason they were less likely to die isn't because it improved generalized health it's because they were less likely to have another fracture and we less likely to be immobilized."
Jean did take a second fall but this time she got back up and kept on walking.
Jean says "it gives you a sense of security. I really don't worry about anymore."
Secure enough to take up traveling.
Jean says "we went on a hot air balloon ride. It took two men to get me in the basket but we had a ball.
The once a year, 15 minute IV treatment was approved by the FDAlast month and is being marketed under the name Reclast. Earlier studies by the drug maker Novartis suggest reclast also helps prevent spine fractures.
The most common side effects reported were muscle, joint or bone pain and flu-like symptoms. There have also been concerns about heart problems, but the drug's maker, Novartis, says recent clinical trials have not showed a risk of heart trouble.
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