If the calcium concentration in the blood is too high (hypercalcemia), it can interfere with nerve and brain function and can damage the kidney or lead to weakened bones. Many patients have asymptomatic hypercalcemia that is discovered by a routine blood test. The most common cause of hypercalcemia is hyperparathyroidism, overactivity of the parathyroid glands. Most often this is due to the presence of a benign parathyroid tumor. Using sensitive blood tests, nuclear scans and ultrasonography, our endocrinologists locate these tumors and refer patients for curative surgery.
Our bones are made up of calcium, collagen, minerals and living cells. Vitamin D and parathyroid hormone work together with other hormones to control the calcium in our bones. For healthy bones, it is important to maintain appropriate calcium intake and vitamin D levels. In addition, regular exercise can help to maintain bone strength and reduce the risk of falls that could result in broken bones. Low bone density is treated with medication when necessary.
Bones are constantly regenerating; old bone is replaced by new. Osteoporosis results when there is an imbalance between the resorption of old bone and the production of new bone. Osteoporosis does not cause symptoms until a bone breaks. Therefore, individuals, especially those at high risk, need to be screened. All women age 65 and over and men age 70 and over should be screened for osteoporosis with a DEXA scan. Earlier testing is indicated for individuals at high risk due to early menopause, rheumatoid arthritis, long-term steroid treatment or previous low-impact fracture.