Hypercalcemia / High Blood Calcium | Tampa General Hospital

Hypercalcemia / High Blood Calcium

Hypercalcemia is a condition that occurs when the calcium level in the blood is above normal. Normal calcium levels vary with age. Most adults should have calcium levels below 10.2. Hypercalcemia also known as high blood calcium, can lead to additional medical issues and cause a variety of medical problems.

What Causes Hypercalcemia?

There are a few reasons why someone can develop hypercalcemia, including hyperparathyroidism. Parathyroid glands produce a hormone called parathyroid hormone (PTH), which regulates the levels of calcium in the bloodstream. Hyperparathyroidism is the result of overactive parathyroid glands that produce too much PTH, leading to high blood calcium levels.

Other Causes of Hypercalcemia 

  • Cancer
  • Other diseases such as tuberculosis and sarcoidosis
  • Hereditary factors
  • Medications or supplements (vitamin D)
  • Severe dehydration
  • Immobility

What are the Symptoms of Hypercalcemia?

Not all patients with hypercalcemia show signs of the condition, but those who do may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Upset stomach, nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Bone and muscle pain or weakness
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fainting

Complications Caused by Hypercalcemia

Calcium is an essential component of human biology. Maintaining proper calcium levels requires a delicate balance, so when blood calcium is too high, it can impact the kidneys, digestive system, nervous system (brain), muscles, bones and heart.

Some complications of hypercalcemia are:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney failure
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Arrhythmia

How is Hypercalcemia Diagnosed?

Since many patients do not exhibit symptoms, diagnosing hypercalcemia typically requires blood tests. These tests can also show whether a patient’s parathyroid hormone level is high, indicating an overactive parathyroid.

What is the Treatment for Hypercalcemia?

Since there are multiple factors that can cause hypercalcemia, treatment will depend on the cause of the high blood calcium. In cases of hyperparathyroidism, a parathyroidectomy will likely be the recommended treatment.

There are three types of parathyroidectomies:

  • Minimally invasive parathyroidectomy (MIRP)a minimally invasive, radio-guided approach to parathyroid gland removal; most patients leave the hospital within two hours after the procedure
  • Reoperative parathyroidectomya surgical approach to discover and remove parathyroid glands that may have been missed during a previous surgery
  • Complex parathyroid surgerya procedure that combines the removal of the parathyroid and thyroid glands

Why Choose the Parathyroid & Thyroid Institute for Hypercalcemia Treatment?

Tampa General Hospital’s Parathyroid & Thyroid Institute is dedicated to treating patients who experience parathyroid conditions like hypercalcemia. We have two of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable parathyroid surgeons operating today—Dr. Douglas Politz and Dr. José Lopez. They have conducted more than 35,000 individual parathyroid gland examinations and have performed more than 14,000 parathyroidectomies combined.