TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — If you know your cholesterol numbers and your blood pressure levels, that’s good. But if you don’t know your calcium level, you may want to ask your doctor. High calcium could cause major problems and you’d never know.
Kristie Rowe thrives on visiting her family. But during the last couple of years …
“One day I’d be fine with energy, and the next day I’d be totally spent,” Kristie explained.
Besides energy, she started losing her hair. Kristie knew she had high calcium levels, but didn’t know if that meant trouble for her body.
Kristie continued, “It got to the point when I asked my physician, so when do I need to have this addressed. And, his answer was, you’re there.”
Doctors discovered a tumor on one of Kristie’s four parathyroid glands.
Jim Norman, MD, FACS, FACE, Norman Parathyroid Center, explained, “High calcium levels are more deadly and cause more health problems than high cholesterol. So everybody really should know what their calcium level is.”
Also known as hyperparathyroidism, the hormone the tumor produces makes people feel tired as well as causing osteoporosis, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, kidney stones and kidney failure.
Dr. Norman continued, “A little over 75% are women. And, interestingly, it’s women in the ages around menopause so it’s primarily between the ages of 45 and 60 is when most women get this.”
The good news is … a 20-minute procedure and the tumor was gone.
“Came in for surgery that morning and by 11am, I was on the road heading home,” smiled Kristie.
“Sometimes within a day or two, sometimes a week or two, but life changes dramatically,” stated Dr. Norman.
While Rowe’s tumor was the size of a golf ball, she only has a faint scar.
“The next day that I started realizing some bone issues that I kind of chalked up to old age, I wasn’t having anymore. So, it really was such a pleasant relief,” Kristie said.
“There’s no stiches to take out, they peel off the bandaid and they go out about their life expecting great things to happen,” Dr. Norman said.
Dr. Norman advises you should always get a copy of your blood test and look at your calcium levels. If they’re above ten, it’s almost always a problem. Dr. Norman and his team have performed more than 40,000 parathyroid operations.
Contributors to this news report include: Sarah Rosario, Producer; Angela Clooney, Videographer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up: http://www.ivanhoe.com/ftk
DANGERS OF HIGH CALCIUM – HYPERPARATHYROIDISM
BACKGROUND: Calcium is a mineral that is important in the regulation and processes of many body functions including bone formation, hormone release, muscle contraction, and nerve and brain function. Hypercalcemia is the term that refers to elevated levels of calcium in the bloodstream. Calcium regulation is primarily controlled by parathyroid hormone (PTH), vitamin D, and calcitonin. Together, these three hormones act on the bones, the kidneys, and the GI tract to regulate calcium levels in the bloodstream. One of the most common causes of hypercalcemia is an overproduction of parathyroid hormone, or hyperparathyroidism. Hyperparathyroidism tends to be more common in women over 50. It can be the result of all four parathyroid glands producing too much PTH (parathyroid hyperplasia), or one gland specifically producing an excessive amount of hormone (usually the result of a parathyroid adenoma, or benign tumor). Hypercalcemia can occur due to other medical conditions. These conditions can vary in severity and may be life-threatening. Malignancy is a common cause of elevated blood calcium. Up to 20 percent of individuals with cancer will develop hypercalcemia at some point in their disease.
SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT: In the majority of patients with hypercalcemia, the signs and symptoms are minimal. In general, the symptoms increase with higher levels of calcium in the blood. Some of the symptoms include gastrointestinal conditions, kidney-related conditions, psychological conditions and bone pain and bone-related conditions. In severe cases, the elevated calcium levels can cause abnormal heart rhythms with specific findings on an EKG. Hypercalcemia is easily diagnosed with a blood test. Diagnosing the causes of hypercalcemia, however, is a more involved process. In addition to a detailed history and physical examination, it may require further blood tests such as a PTH level and vitamin D level, urine evaluation, X-rays, and other imaging procedures. If the hypercalcemia is causing severe symptoms, or if the values are critically high, lowering the blood levels may require hospitalization and the use of hydration, steroids, or even dialysis. There are intravenous medications that can be used to lower calcium as well. If the hypercalcemia is modest, treatment with medications can be administered on an outpatient basis.
RESEARCH IN HOW CALCIUM CAN HELP: Treatment regimens that account for dietary calcium intake may decrease the risk of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infections in specific patients, according to researchers from the University of Michigan Medicine. They found that calcium is required for C. difficile spore germination, and that adding or depriving spores of calcium affects their ability to germinate. When C. difficile spores reach the gut, they pass through the gut’s acidic environment unharmed. Much of the spore’s weight comes from calcium which helps trigger its germination. In their investigation, researchers depleted calcium from harvested mouse ileal contents and found that these mouse models had a 90 percent lower rate of C. difficile wild-type spore germination, and that mutant spores did not germinate at all. When they added calcium back to the ileal contents, germination of wild and mutant spore types was restored. “These spores don’t want to germinate in the wrong place,” said Travis Kochan, PhD student. “C. difficile spores have specialized to germinate in the gut environment, especially in the environment of the small intestine, where calcium and the bile salt injection from the liver comes in.” A concurrent US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation from the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research lab found that calcium, not glycine, was critical for the germination process.
* Contact: Julie Keith, Norman Parathyroid Center Ellen Fiss, Public Relations