SSRIs double fracture risk in elderly

GPs should be alert to an increased risk of bone fracture among older patients taking SSRIs, suggest Canadian research findings.

The study of over 5,000 people older than 50 years showed that those taking SSRIs had double the risk of fracture, compared with those not taking the anti-depressants.

Over five years of follow-up, 137 participants reported daily SSRI use. Fractures that were clinically reported and radiographically confirmed were twice as likely in this group than those not taking SSRIs.

Daily SSRI use was also associated with an increased risk of falling and lower bone mineral density (BMD) at the hip.

These effects were dose dependent and similar for those who reported SSRI use at baseline and five-year follow-up.

Because both BMD and falls were controlled when estimating the effect of SSRIs on fracture, it is unlikely they are the whole explanation for the link, say the researchers.

Previous research has shown that serotonin receptors and the serotonin transporter have been found in osteoblasts and osteocytes, suggesting a role for SSRIs in bone physiology. Additionally, studies in growing mice have shown SSRIs impaired bone gain.  

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