Let’s play a word association game of minerals & their major roles
I say, ‘Potassium’. Maybe you say, ‘Sodium Potassium Pump’
I say, ‘Magnesium’. You say, ‘Muscles?’
I say, ‘Calcium’. You say, “Bones’….
But I say, Second Messenger. And arguably the most pervasive & potent one, at that. Remind you about second messengers? Well, sure. They are the ones who get sh*t done. Not like a boss (i.e. hormone or neurotransmitter) who shout directives from above but never step foot inside the dirty guts of the engine room itself. It’s the second messengers who run these messages from the outside of the cell to the inside and the engine room, to ensure that the directive is actually actioned! Amazing huh! And free calcium in the blood is, as I said, really a superhero even among the second messengers – with its regular responsibilities including: Insulin, TSH, Adrenaline, Oxytocin, Serotonin receptor activation etc etc
Does, it have a dark side? Well, sure. Don’t most superheroes?
If the available Calcium in blood and the extracellular environment is too high then basically bad sh*t gets done. Including vasoconstriction, clotting, deposition of calcium in the wrong place like arteries and joints and etc etc. That’s why the amount of Calcium in our blood is the MOST tightly regulated of all electrolytes and, in turn, has the NARROWEST of reference ranges. But will a Serum Calcium level always tell you when there is a problem with Calcium regulation? No. You’d need to have measured the major regulator itself, Parathyroid Hormone (PTH). Wait, am I seriously trying to tell you, that Serum Calcium alone can look completely normal in spite of really damaging Calcium dysregulation underway – leading to accelerated BMD loss, increased cardiovascular and renal risks etc.? I most certainly am.
So do you know which of your patients’ really need PTH assessment and why 1 dominant group amongst those, is any woman leading up to and following menopause?
No? Well you better pull up a pew and have a listen and a watch then! Yes this latest Update in Under 30 episode even comes with a little video tutorial!🤓🤯
Parathyroid hormone is a career criminal. In addition to buoying dropping blood calcium levels via legitimate means, it illegitimately achieves this by stealing it from our bones. But you wouldn’t know it – because like all career criminals this occurs completely under the radar. Elevated PTH, however, constitutes the most modifiable risk factor for bone mineral density loss & fracture risk and offers the biggest BMD gains secondary to its normalisation. In addition to this, even within range but ‘high-normal’ PTH correlates with a range of other cardiovascular and urinary presentations & if combined with elevated serum calcium can become a multi-systemic presentation (GIT, Mental health etc) frequently mistaken for other aetiologies. So how can we be alert to this ‘bone thief’? Which of our patients will benefit the most from PTH measurement and monitoring? This recording, resource & video tutorial on how to use a Ca PTH Nomogram answers all!