Review on January 07, 2010
A menopausal woman is at a greater risk of bone fractures than when she was at an earlier stage of her life. This is due to low levels of estrogen in the body of a menopausal woman as she reaches the end of her reproductive cycles. As a menopausal woman ages she may also find other health issues become problematic, for instance, increased risk of blood clotting which can cause strokes and heart problems. Oral anticoagulants are often prescribed by doctors to thin the blood and reduce the risk of blood clots in a menopausal woman. Unfortunately doctors are starting to believe that this medication can stop the functioning of vitamin K which helps to maintain healthy bones.
In order to assess the effect oral anticoagulants have on the function of vitamin K, and therefore the development of healthy bones in the body, 6314 women from Olmsted County, Minnesota were recruited into a trail conducted between 1966 and 1990. Researchers sought to record the number of fractures each menopausal woman had while taking the anticoagulant medicine. The number of fractures each menopausal woman suffered from during this time was compared to the sex- and age-specific fracture incidence rates which had been deduced for the general population in order to assess any difference between a menopausal woman on the medication and one that was not. All the women involved were over the age of 35 when they entered the trail and had suffered from their first venous thromboembolism for which they were prescribed oral anticoagulants to reduce the risk of further blood clots.
Over the follow-up period 480 fractures accrued in the women in both the vertebrate and ribs. In comparison to the calculated risk for women of the various ages involved, results show an increased risk for those menopausal women taking anticoagulants such as Warfarin. Although this risk is clear from the data, the researchers involved could find no explanation as to why such medication has an effect on vitamin K, they suggest more research needs to be undertaken.
As this research suggests a menopausal woman taking anticoagulants may be at a higher risk of fracture than a menopausal woman who is not. Women need to way up the pros and cons of this type of medication and consult their doctor for professional advice. As problems with blood clots can be a very serious for a menopausal or postmenopausal woman even an increased risk of bone fracture may not be worth stopping this type of medication for.