Extra precautions taken at Imperial College London Diabetes Centre to protect patients at its reopened facilities
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 21 October 2020: With a focus on safety precautions at all of its recently reopened facilities, Mubadala Healthcare’s Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) is encouraging those patients with osteoporosis who are treated with denosumab to return to their normal injection schedules to ensure optimal bone health and avoid the risk of bone fractures.
Consultant endocrinologist and diabetologist Dr Sara Suliman explains that because advancing age and chronic conditions such as diabetes make people more vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, many osteoporosis patients were previously encouraged not to leave the house for non-emergency care during the height of the pandemic.
She says: “At ICLDC, we specialize in diabetes and other endocrine diseases so we treat more than 8,000 patients with osteoporosis. Of these, approximately 10 per cent are on Denosumab injections most of whom are already late in having their scheduled denosumab injection, so we have implemented a host of protective measures to allow them to get safely back on schedule.”
While osteoporosis causes bones to weaken and become more susceptible to fractures, treatment with denosumab prevents bone loss by blocking a specific receptor in the body to decrease bone breakdown. However, the treatment is intended to be lifelong and if it is stopped or delayed, bone health decreases rapidly, potentially increasing the risk of fractures significantly after a delay of just two months.
Dr Suliman says: “It is important that these patients receive the injections every six months, or their bone mineral density – meaning the quality and quantity of bone – will deteriorate even more quickly than before treatment, falling to pre-treatment levels within just 12 months.”
She adds that since many of ICLDC’s patients treated with denosumab are older and/or have diabetes, ICLDC is scheduling the vital injection appointments in dedicated areas, interspersed in such a way that patients are not exposed to more people than necessary.
“This approach is on top of the existing hygiene precautions put in place to keep all of our patients and staff as safe as possible,” she explains.
According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, one in three women and one in five men over 50 will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis, and many of the risk factors for the disease are prevalent in the UAE.
These risk factors – some of which can be addressed through lifestyle changes – include vitamin D deficiency; low mobility levels; premature menopause; long-term steroid use; smoking; being underweight; bone diseases; malabsorption of nutrients and other dietary issues such as calcium deficiency; and a family history of fractures.