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Chest. 1994 Jun;105(6):1722-7.

Decreased bone mineral density in premenopausal asthma patients receiving long-term inhaled steroids.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital.


Inhaled corticosteroids have become a key element in the maintenance treatment of bronchial asthma. It is well-known that long-term systemic steroid use causes osteoporosis, whereas its inhaled counterpart has been believed to be devoid of such a side-effect. However, recent studies showed that administration of inhaled corticosteroids was associated with biochemical evidence of derangement in bone turnover. We therefore studied bone mineral density (BMD) by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry in 30 patients (18 females, 12 males) with bronchial asthma treated with steroids, essentially by the inhaled route only (both nasal and tracheobronchial), and compared them with healthy subjects individually matched for age, sex, menopausal status, and body mass index (BMI). There was a significant decrease in BMD in the patient group at the hip (neck of femur, p = 0.007; trochanter of femur, p = 0.034; Ward's triangle, p = 0.016) and the lumbar area of the spine (L2-4, p = 0.041). Further analysis showed that this difference from control subjects was mainly seen in the female patients and not in the male patients (neck of femur, p = 0.049; Ward's triangle, p = 0.025; lumbar spine, p = 0.039). In the female patients, there was significant negative correlation of BMD of the lumbar area of the spine and the trochanter of femur with daily inhaled steroid dose and positive correlation of BMD of the trochanter with BMI.

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