Taking Evista for Osteoporosis

Bone Mineral Density Medication

Doctor talking with senior woman and showing her something on a model skeleton

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If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, or you're post-menopausal and at a high risk for invasive breast cancer, your doctor may prescribe Evista (raloxifene).

Manufactured by the Eli Lilly Corporation, Evista increases the density of your bones. It does its work by mimicking the effects of estrogen, a hormone that, among other things, builds up bone tissue. And for invasive breast cancer prevention, Evista blocks the effect of estrogen on breast tissue as too much estrogen in the body can up your risk for this disease.

Note that Evista was developed for postmenopausal womenwhich means if you're pregnant, nursing or you're still able to become pregnant, it's best to talk to your doctor about whether this drug is right for you.

Medication Class

Evista, (generic name: raloxifene) is a SERM, which stands for selective estrogen receptor modulators. SERMs are synthetic molecules that interfere with sites in your body's tissues (called "receptors") that normally receive estrogen molecules. Depending on the tissue, SERMs can either block or enhance estrogen effects.

Side Effects

SERMs, including Evista, can affect you in unwanted ways, as well. While SERMs are able to mimic estrogen in order help develop more bone tissue, or block the effects of estrogen on breast tissue to help prevent invasive breast cancer, taking them can also lead to leg cramps, hot flashes, headaches, dizziness, joint pain, vomiting, and/or sinus problems.

And these are just the mild ones. Serious side effects are possible. If you experience any of the following, the experts on the Emedicine website suggest seeking medical attention immediately:

  • Signs of an allergic reactions, for example hives, difficulty breathing and/or swelling of your lips, face, tongue or throat.
  • Sudden onset of:
    • Numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body
    • Headache, confusion, problems with your vision, speech, or balance
    • Chest pain, cough, wheezing, rapid breathing and/or fast heart rate
  • Swelling in your hands or feet
  • Flu-like symptoms: Fever, chills, sore throat and body aches
  • Vaginal bleeding, breast pain or tenderness. A lump in your breast is also cause for concern.
  • Painful urination, including a burning sensation
  • Severe lower back pain.

Drug Interactions

Before you start Evista, it is very important to tell your doctor about any drugs you're already taking. The reason is that some drugs don't mix with Evista, for example cholestyramine (brand names Prevalite and Questran), which is a cholesterol-lowering drug.

Blood thinners, such as Warfarin or Coumarin may present a problem, as well. (Your doctor can order a test that checks for prothombrin to be sure the two drugs in combination will be safe for you.)

Also, Eli Lilly advises you not to take Evista if you're on estrogen therapy that is delivered via a pill, patch or by injection.

Other drugs that may interact with Evista include Valium (generic name diazepam) and Proglycem (generic name diazoxide) and ibuprofen.

Certain medical conditions and lifestyle habits also don't mix well with Evista. First and foremost, if you have an allergic to raloxifene, you should stay away from Evista.

The same is true if you smoke, you've had a blood clot, you have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver disease, you've had strokes (even TIAs count here), or if you've had breast cancer previously.

Note that the above lists of drugs, conditions, and lifestyle habits are incomplete. Speak with your doctor to get all the information.

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Article Sources

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