Endocrine disorder is most common cause of elevated calcium levels
Unusually high calcium levels in the blood can almost always be traced to primary hyperparathyroidism, an undertreated, underreported condition that affects mainly women and the elderly, according to a new study by UCLA researchers.
The condition, which results from overactive parathyroid glands and includes symptoms of bone loss, depression and fatigue that may go undetected for years, is most often seen in African American women over the age of 50, the researchers discovered.
The study, currently online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, is one of the first to examine a large, racially and ethnically diverse population—in this case, one that was 65 percent non-white. Previous studies had focused on smaller, primarily Caucasian populations.
The four parathyroid glands, which are located in the neck, next to the thyroid, regulate the body's calcium levels. When one is dysfunctional, it can cause major imbalances—for example, by releasing calcium from the bones and into the bloodstream. Over time, calcium loss from bones often leads to osteoporosis and fractures, and excessive calcium levels in the blood can cause kidney stones and worsening kidney function.
The UCLA researchers determined that hyperparathyroidism is the leading cause of high blood-calcium levels and is responsible for nearly 90 percent of all cases.
"The findings suggest that hyperparathyroidism is the predominant cause of high calcium levels, so if patients find they have high calcium, they should also have their parathyroid hormone level checked," said the study's lead author, Dr. Michael W. Yeh, an associate professor of surgery and endocrinology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Hyperparathyroidism, which affects approximately 1 percent of the population, can be detected by measuring parathyroid hormone levels to determine if they are elevated or abnormal.
For the study, researchers utilized a patient database from Kaiser Permanente Southern California that included information on 3.5 million individuals, a population roughly the size of Ohio. Using data from lab results, the research team identified 15,234 cases of chronic high-calcium levels. Of those cases, 13,327 patients (87 percent) were found to have hyperparathyroidism.
The incidence of hyperparathyroidism—reported as the number of cases per 100,000 people per year—was found to be highest among African Americans (92 women and 46 men), followed by Caucasians (81 women and 29 men), Asians (52 women, 28 men) and Hispanics (49 women and 17 men).
The research team also found that with advancing age, the incidence of hyperparathyroidism (per 100,000 people per year) increased and that more women were affected:
- Under age 50: 12 to 24 cases for both genders
- Ages 50: 80 women and 36 men
- Ages 70: 196 women and 95 men
However, since black women tend to have stronger bones and fewer fractures, more study is needed to see how the disorder is manifested in this patient group. African American women's physiology may be different and more protective of calcium and bone, Yeh said.
Yeh also noted that further study of the disorder may result in new, more targeted treatment guidelines based on racial differences. African American women, for instance, may require less vitamin D than is commonly prescribed to protect bone health, he said.
In the study, the researchers also found that the prevalence of hyperparathyroidism has tripled in the last 10 years, increasing from 76 women to 233 (out of 100,000) and from 30 men to 85.
The researchers noted that the growing prevalence is likely due to increased calcium testing, annual lab tests to monitor patients with symptoms and the low rate of surgery to treat the disorder. Previous research has shown that only 28 percent of patients with hyperparathyroidism undergo surgery to remove the overactive parathyroid gland—the most reliable way to correct the disorder.
"Women can suffer for years with hyperparathyroidism and not know they have it, which is especially critical in midlife, when bone health is so important," Yeh said. "Appropriate management of the disorder is essential. Surgery should be considered in the majority of people with primary hyperparathyroidism."
The next step, Yeh said, is further study of this patient population to examine the long-term impact of the condition on bone health and the effectiveness of different management strategies on outcomes.
"We are aiming to better understand how hyperparathyroidism affects people of different racial backgrounds," he said.
Journal reference: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Provided by University of California, Los Angeles
- Monitored vitamin D therapy safe for patients with high blood calcium levels Jun 26, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Low calcium diet linked to higher risk of hormone condition in women Oct 18, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Drug lowers body's 'set point' to control hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients Jul 17, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Secondary osteoporosis: More than what meets the eye Oct 09, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Rare transplant allows young woman to forgo 60 pills daily Mar 14, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
There are significant cost and risk factors associated with two procedures commonly used to diagnose or treat gastrointestinal problems, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes 11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Regular consumption of coffee is associated with a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), an autoimmune liver disease, Mayo Clinic research shows. The findings were being presented at the Digestive Disease ...
Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes 11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A new case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in Saudi Arabia where 15 people have already died after contracting it, the health ministry announced on Saturday on its Internet website.
Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes May 18, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—Few randomized clinical trials have been done to assess clinical prediction rules for patients with lower back pain, and the trials that have been done are of low quality and do not provide ...
Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
A new, highly sensitive blood test that quickly detects even the lowest levels of malaria parasites in the body could make a dramatic difference in efforts to tackle the disease in the UK and across the world, according to ...
Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
In their quest to learn more about the variability of cells between and within tissues, biomedical scientists have devised tools capable of simultaneously measuring dozens of characteristics of individual ...
14 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Scientists at Johns Hopkins have turned their view of osteoarthritis (OA) inside out. Literally. Instead of seeing the painful degenerative disease as a problem primarily of the cartilage that cushions joints, ...
14 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
The hunt for an HIV vaccine has gobbled up $8 billion in the past decade, and the failure of the most recent efficacy trial has delivered yet another setback to 26 years of efforts.
4 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
The devastating effect of Alzheimer's disease on bilingual people has been thrown into focus in Canada, where the sudden loss of a second language can leave sufferers feeling like strangers in their own country.
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Patients with treatment-resistant major depression saw dramatic improvement in their illness after treatment with ketamine, an anesthetic, according to the largest ketamine clinical trial to-date led by researchers from the ...
11 hours ago | 4.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
Research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) explores new methods for managing digestive health through diet and lifestyle.
11 hours ago | not rated yet | 1