Calcium is one of the most abundant elements in the body. The mineral accounts for about 2 to 3 pounds of our total body weight and exists mostly as crystalline hydroxyapatite in your bones and teeth.
If you have a blood test that shows high blood calcium, then your condition should be examined further. A high calcium level in the blood is not a normal condition. The medical term for high blood calcium levels is Hypercalcemia.
As a mineral, calcium is important in the regulation and processes of many body functions. Calcium levels are primarily regulated by parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcitonin and vitamin D via the kidneys and the intestinal tract.
Calcium is necessary to maintain your bones or skeletal system. Calcium also plays an important role in releasing hormones, muscle contraction, and nerve and brain function. However, high calcium levels can interfere with these processes.
High Calcium Levels and Hyperparathyroidism
A common cause of hypercalcemia is primary hyperparathyroidism, which is the over activity of one or more of your parathyroid glands. Other causes of hypercalcemia include cancer (rarely), other medical disorders, certain medications and excessive use of vitamin D and calcium supplements.
Moderately high levels of hypercalcemia may produce tiredness or fatigue. There may also be heart rhythm abnormalities, increased urination, and kidney stones. At high levels of hypercalcemia, patients may experience muscle twitching, anxiety, depression, confusion, and even personality changes.
If any of the above symptoms occur without a known cause, you should discuss the possibility of hypercalcemia with your health care practitioner.
The incidence of primary hyperparathyroidism is approximately one per 1,000 people. The prevalence of primary hyperparathyroidism has been estimated to be 3 in 1000 in the general population and as high as 21 in 1000 in postmenopausal women.
In any case, elevated PTH levels in the blood are harmful. Ionized calcium levels are measured in patients with suspected hyperparathyroidism. Even if the calcium levels do not rise further than slightly elevated levels, there is still continual damage being done to your bones and skeletal system. The long-term effects of this damage are severe and permanent. A ‘wait and see’ approach is not advised if there is a suspicion of parathyroid disease.
New testing and surgical techniques have dramatically changed the way parathyroid operations are performed. Minimally invasive parathyroid surgery is an outpatient procedure that requires a small incision, and the procedure can be performed quickly. Minimally invasive surgery helps patients recover faster with minimal neck scarring.
Learn more about your parathyroid surgery treatment options.