Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to
break more easily. It is most common in women. It begins in women around the
time of menopause. The major cause is lack of estrogen. Osteoporosis can lead to
painful fractures (broken bones), most often in the hips, backbone or arms.
How can I keep from getting
- Exercise regularly.
- Quit smoking.
- Drink only moderate amounts of alcohol.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Take extra calcium and vitamin D.
What is raloxifene
and what does it do?
Raloxifene (brand name: Evista) is a new
medicine that helps prevent and treat osteoporosis. It can only be used after
menopause. It slows bone loss and slightly increases normal bone growth. It
lowers total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels in the blood. It doesn't raise
triglyceride or HDL ("good") cholesterol levels.
Raloxifene is being tested to see if it lowers
the risk of heart disease.
Raloxifene doesn't cause some side effects that
estrogen causes, like vaginal spotting (bleeding) and breast tenderness.
Raloxifene also doesn't seem to increase the risk of cancer of the uterus or
breast. However, it doesn't make hot flushes go away (a benefit of estrogen
How is raloxifene taken?
Raloxifene is taken as a tablet once a day. It
can be taken with or without food.
While taking raloxifene, you shouldn't also take
medicines that lower cholesterol levels, like cholestyramine (one brand name:
Questran). And you shouldn't take estrogen at the same time, in injections,
pills or patches.
If you're taking warfarin (one brand name:
Coumadin), your doctor may want to check your prothrombin time (time it takes
for your blood to clot) more often and adjust your dosage of warfarin.
Does raloxifene have any side
Most side effects are mild. The most common
effects are hot flushes and leg cramps.
A rare but serious side effect is blood clots in
the veins. Call your doctor right away if you have pain in the calves (lower
part of legs), leg swelling, sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, if you are
coughing up blood, or if you notice changes in your vision.
Who shouldn't take raloxifene?
You shouldn't take raloxifene if:
- You're pregnant or can become pregnant.
- You have or have had blood clots.
- You have limited mobility (if you are in a cast,
in a wheelchair, or in bed) for a long time.
- You have liver disease or are allergic to
raloxifene or any of its ingredients.