A high level of calcium in the blood, or hypercalcemia, indicates underlying conditions, such as hyperparathyroidism; lung diseases and cancers; dehydration; side effects of medications, such as thiazide diuretics; and hypervitaminosis D, states Healthline. If untreated, hypercalcemia causes kidney failure, osteoporosis, irregular heartbeats and dementia and may ultimately induce comas.
Hypercalcemia affects less than 1 percent of people, with women over the age of 50 most at risk due to overactive parathyroid glands or primary hyperparathyroidism, states MedlinePlus. Doctors conduct several tests, such as the serum calcium, the serum parathyroid hormone, the serum vitamin D level, and the urine calcium tests, to provide a correct diagnosis of hypercalcemia.
Once doctors diagnose hypercalcemia, they conduct other tests to check for underlying diseases, such as cancer, adds Healthline. These tests may include chest X-rays for lung cancer, mammograms for breast cancer, and magnetic resonance imaging scans that create images of body organs for examination.
When at normal levels in the blood, calcium is an important mineral with many functions, such as helping to build and maintain strong healthy bones, releasing hormones, contracting muscles, and assisting with brain and nerve functions, adds MedlinePlus. Sources of calcium include dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, fish with soft bones, and foods fortified with calcium.