Posts Tagged ‘PTH’
This week a patient was delighted to know she had no bone worries – based on her t-score of -2.4 in her hips. Unfortunately she was very wrong! “Osteopenia” is just a single test result. Other factors placed her at High Risk for Fracture.
One test does not tell the whole story. For instance, my total cholesterol is “normal”. That means that I have no heart worries? Wrong! I have hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and a history of congestive heart failure. I am at risk for heart problems. My patient is at risk for bone problems, specifically Fragility Fractures.
PTH is ParaThyroid Hormone. This is not Thyroid. The Parathyroid glands live next to the thyroid gland. They are like 4 spots on the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland’s wings. But their function is totally different
High PTH warns us that not enough Calcium is being absorbed from diet and/or supplements. When not enough calcium is being absorbed, the blood calcium level drops. If the blood calcium drops too low, you will die. The Parathyroid glands prevent that. The Parathyroid glands’ job is to steal calcium from your bones.
Patients often ask “What’s that for?” when I order blood tests. They understand that DXA is for Bone Mineral Density (BMD). They understand Vertebral Fracture Assessment (VFA) when I show the lateral Spine image to them on the screen. Blood tests are a bit more challenging.
Osteoporosis is often caused or made worse by other diseases and conditions. We screen for the common diseases and conditions. Some of them are easily corrected. Easy or hard, they must be identified and corrected to maximize bone health and minimize fracture risk. For this we need blood tests.
“Men are from Mars”, so March is a good time to think about men, the overlooked minority in osteoporosis. The American Journal of Men’s Health has published a study of osteoporosis screening rates for men over age 70. The results are discouraging.
Osteoporosis screening at age 70 for men with no identified risk factors, and earlier for those with known risk factors, has been recommended by the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) and Medicare since 2008. 25 % of persons known to have osteoporosis are men. Yet we still perceive osteoporosis to be women only . We ignore the male minority.