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MMCRI begins study on osteoporosis prevention in post-menopausal women

November 09, 2021

PORTLAND, Maine – Maine Medical Center Research Institute (MMCRI) researchers are collaborating with colleagues at four leading medical centers across the country to determine whether the beta blocker Atenolol, commonly used to lower blood pressure, can also help prevent osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. The Atenolol for the Prevention of Osteoporosis (APO) study is funded at MMCRI by a four-year $2.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging, is coordinated by the Mayo Clinic and also includes Columbia University Medical Center and the University of California at San Francisco.

Menopause is a known risk factor for osteoporosis, a condition that weakens the bones, putting a person at risk for bone fractures. New research suggests that certain nerves that increase heart rate and blood pressure may also cause loss of bone strength, especially after menopause. Atenolol slows the heart rate and reduces blood pressure by blocking the effect of the body‘s nerves. The study examines whether the drug may help preserve bone in doing so.

“Current methods of preserving bone in post-menopausal women, such as estrogen, can be effective in the short term for women in their 40s and 50s, but have the potential to cause serious side effects after age 60,” said Irwin Brodsky, MD, MPH, MMCRI’s principal investigator on this study with Clifford Rosen, MD. “Our hope is that Atenolol will improve the long-term bone health of older women with fewer side effects.”

Researchers will follow healthy post-menopausal women between the ages of 50 – 75 for two years. Participants will take a half-dose for a month to determine if they can tolerate the medication and then randomly be assigned to take a 50 milligram dose or a placebo each day for the duration of the study. Women will keep a diary of their health and symptoms and visit the study office every six months for blood and bone density tests.

Those interested in participating in the study can contact the research team at 207-396-6850 or apostudy@mmc.org. Because this is a study on the prevention of osteoporosis, women who already have osteoporosis are not eligible. Those with certain medical conditions or taking certain medications also may not qualify.

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About Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center (MMC), recognized as a Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News and World Report for 2021-2022, is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in 1868, MMC is the state’s largest medical center, licensed for 637 beds and employing more than 9,600 people. MMC's unique role as both a community hospital and a referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world-class biomedical research center. As a nonprofit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23 percent of all the charity care delivered in Maine. MMC is part of the MaineHealth system, a growing family of health care services in northern New England. For more information, visit www.mmc.org.


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