Hyperparathyroidism causes symptoms in most people, however it is the duration of the disease that causes most of the health problems and serious complications. Heart disease, osteoporosis, kidney stones, stroke, and the development of some cancers is related to how long a patient has had elevated calcium levels, not how high the calcium has become. This app encourages you to find as many blood tests going back as many years as possible. Your levels will be graphed for as many years as you provide, giving you an excellent look at the duration of your disease.
How high the calcium has become is NOT a measure of how severe the hyperparathyroidism has become. This means that a patient with blood calcium of 12.5 mg/dl (3.19 mmol/L) does not necessarily have worse or more severe hyperparathyroidism than a patient with blood calcium of 10.7 mg/dl (2.67 mmole/L). We see a common mistake made by doctors who don’t know much about this disease making the assumption that a patient with a calcium level of 10.7 mg/dl has “mild” hyperparathyroidism that can be watched until the calcium goes higher. This is a serious misunderstanding of this disease—the height of the calcium elevation is not a good measure of the severity of hyperparathyroidism and is not a good indicator of how much damage has been caused.
If an adult patient has a calcium level of 12.0 mg/dl (3.0 mmol/L), they have severe hyperparathyroidism and have probably had calcium levels above 10.1 mg/dl (2.52 mmol/L) for at least ten years, which is not normal in an adult. They are almost guaranteed to have developed many of the complications of untreated hyperparathyroidism. This should not be allowed to happen. However, not everybody who has a parathyroid tumor for 10 or even 15 years will get calcium levels this high. Most patients will develop heart disease, osteoporosis, A-Fib, GERD, anemia, kidney stones, and even kidney failure without ever having a single calcium level of 11.5 mg/dl (2.87 mmol/L). However, they will have had elevated calcium levels for at least 6-8 years.
Monitoring blood calcium levels because it is just a little bit elevated is unwise as evidenced by virtually every scientific study in the past 15 years. Even slightly high calcium levels can cause ALL of the health problems associated with this disease. Again, the complications and health problems of hyperparathyroidism occur at ANY elevated calcium level. Blood calcium that is only slightly high is just as dangerous as very high blood calcium.
For more information on this topic: http://www.parathyroid.com/parathyroid-symptoms.htm