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Hyperparathyroidism

A condition in which the parathyroid gland (one of four pea-sized organs found on the thyroid) makes too much parathyroid hormone. This causes a loss of calcium from the bones and an increased level of calcium in the blood.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Hyperparathyroidism

Primary hyperparathyroidism is a disorder of the parathyroid glands, also called parathyroids. "Primary" means this disorder originates in the parathyroid glands. In primary hyperparathyroidism, one or more of the parathyroid glands are overactive. As a result, the gland releases too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). The disorder includes the problems that occur in the rest of the body as a result of too much PTH—for example, loss of calcium from bones.

In the United States, about 100,000 people develop primary hyperparathyroidism each year. The disorder is diagnosed most often in people between age 50 and 60, and women are affected about three times as often as men.

Secondary, or reactive, hyperparathyroidism can occur if a problem such as kidney failure causes the parathyroid glands to be overactive....Read more about Hyperparathyroidism NIH - National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Calcimimetics for secondary hyperparathyroidism in chronic kidney disease patients

Abnormal calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood and tissues occur in chronic kidney disease. These changes are linked to shorter survival and hardening of the arteries leading to heart disease. Standard therapy for abnormal calcium and other mineral levels includes dietary restrictions, phosphorous binders and vitamin D compounds. A newer treatment called cinacalcet showed promise for improving abnormal mineral levels but the effects of this drug on patient outcomes (the way patients feel function and survive) were unclear from early studies. We have updated an earlier review dated 2006 to include studies that assessed the effects of cinacalcet in about 7500 people with chronic kidney disease. While cinacalcet improves some blood abnormalities, it does not improve risk of death or heart disease in people treated with dialysis. In addition, people who take cinacalcet may experience increased nausea, vomiting and the need for blood tests to check blood calcium levels. The current research is high‐quality and means that additional new studies are unlikely to change our confidence in these results. Information for the use of cinacalcet in people with milder forms of kidney disease and those with a kidney transplant is insufficient to guide decision making.

A systematic review of lanthanum carbonate for hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients

Bibliographic details: Gao Y C, Li Z, Tang X H.  A systematic review of lanthanum carbonate for hyperparathyroidism in dialysis patients. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2006; 6(10): 727-732

The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of cinacalcet for secondary hyperparathyroidism in end-stage renal disease patients on dialysis: a systematic review and economic evaluation

The parathyroids are four small glands found in the neck, close to the thyroid. Normally, homeostatic control of serum calcium and phosphate levels is regulated within narrow bounds through parathyroid hormone (PTH) released by the parathyroids. Secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) is a common complication of end-stage renal disease (ESRD). It may develop early in chronic kidney disease (CKD) and progresses as renal function deteriorates. As it does so, the combined effects of reduced serum calcium, increased serum phosphate and decreased vitamin D activity lead to overactivity of the parathyroid glands as they try to maintain appropriate calcium levels. Eventually, the parathyroids may develop reduced expression of calcium and vitamin D receptors and so are less responsive to changes in serum levels that they should regulate.

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Summaries for consumers

Calcimimetics for secondary hyperparathyroidism in chronic kidney disease patients

Abnormal calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood and tissues occur in chronic kidney disease. These changes are linked to shorter survival and hardening of the arteries leading to heart disease. Standard therapy for abnormal calcium and other mineral levels includes dietary restrictions, phosphorous binders and vitamin D compounds. A newer treatment called cinacalcet showed promise for improving abnormal mineral levels but the effects of this drug on patient outcomes (the way patients feel function and survive) were unclear from early studies. We have updated an earlier review dated 2006 to include studies that assessed the effects of cinacalcet in about 7500 people with chronic kidney disease. While cinacalcet improves some blood abnormalities, it does not improve risk of death or heart disease in people treated with dialysis. In addition, people who take cinacalcet may experience increased nausea, vomiting and the need for blood tests to check blood calcium levels. The current research is high‐quality and means that additional new studies are unlikely to change our confidence in these results. Information for the use of cinacalcet in people with milder forms of kidney disease and those with a kidney transplant is insufficient to guide decision making.

Parathyroid Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of parathyroid cancer.

Unusual Cancers of Childhood Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of unusual cancers of childhood such as cancers of the head and neck, chest, abdomen, reproductive system, skin, and others.

Terms to know

Adenoma
A tumor that is not cancer. It starts in gland-like cells of the epithelial tissue (thin layer of tissue that covers organs, glands, and other structures within the body).
Blood
A tissue with red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and other substances suspended in fluid called plasma. Blood takes oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, and carries away wastes.
Bone
A living, growing tissue made mostly of collagen.
Calcium
A mineral needed for healthy teeth, bones, and other body tissues. It is the most common mineral in the body. A deposit of calcium in body tissues, such as breast tissue, may be a sign of disease.
Goiter
Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. The resulting bulge on the neck may become extremely large, but most simple goiters are brought under control before this happens. Occasionally a simple goiter may cause some difficulty in breathing and swallowing.
Hypercalcemia
Higher than normal levels of calcium in the blood.
Kidney
One of a pair of organs in the abdomen. The kidneys remove waste and extra water from the blood (as urine) and help keep chemicals (such as sodium, potassium, and calcium) balanced in the body. The kidneys also make hormones that help control blood pressure and stimulate bone marrow to make red blood cells.
Parathyroid Cancer
A rare cancer that forms in tissues of one or more of the parathyroid glands (four pea-sized glands in the neck that make parathyroid hormone, which helps the body store and use calcium).
Parathyroid Hormone
A substance made by the parathyroid gland that helps the body store and use calcium. A higher-than-normal amount of parathyroid hormone causes high levels of calcium in the blood and may be a sign of disease. Also called parathormone, parathyrin, and PTH.
Renal Calculi (Kidney Stones)
A stone that develops from crystals that form in urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney, in the renal pelvis, or in the ureters. Kidney stones include calcium oxalate stones, cystine stones, struvite stones, and uric acid stones.

More about Hyperparathyroidism

Photo of an adult woman

Also called: HPTH

See Also: Blood Tests, Hypoparathyroidism

Other terms to know: See all 10
Adenoma, Blood, Bone

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