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Ghada T Ballane, Jad G Sfeir, Habib A Dakik, Edward M Brown, and Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan

Hypocalcemia secondary to hypoparathyroidism is a rare cause of congestive heart failure. However, its early recognition and treatment lead to significant improvement in cardiac function. We report a middle-aged woman presenting with symptoms of heart failure with a serum calcium level of 3.7 mg/dl and a serum inorganic phosphate level of 17.6 mg/dl 22 years after subtotal thyroidectomy. Besides calcium and calcitriol supplementation, she was the first patient with severe hypocalcemic cardiomyopathy to be given off-label recombinant human parathyroid hormone (PTH) because of an elevated serum calcium–phosphate product. We discuss the management and outcome of the patient and then present a brief review of similar previously reported cases. We also describe the pivotal role of calcium ion and the potential role of PTH in maintaining myocardial contractility, effective natriuresis, and possible pathogenic mechanisms contributing to heart failure secondary to hypocalcemia and hypoparathyroidism.

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Paul Lips, Kevin D Cashman, Christel Lamberg-Allardt, Heike Annette Bischoff-Ferrari, Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch, Maria Luisa Bianchi, Jan Stepan, Ghada El-Hajj Fuleihan, and Roger Bouillon

Vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) <50 nmol/L or 20 ng/mL) is common in Europe and the Middle East. It occurs in <20% of the population in Northern Europe, in 30–60% in Western, Southern and Eastern Europe and up to 80% in Middle East countries. Severe deficiency (serum 25(OH)D <30 nmol/L or 12 ng/mL) is found in >10% of Europeans. The European Calcified Tissue Society (ECTS) advises that the measurement of serum 25(OH)D be standardized, for example, by the Vitamin D Standardization Program. Risk groups include young children, adolescents, pregnant women, older people (especially the institutionalized) and non-Western immigrants. Consequences of vitamin D deficiency include mineralization defects and lower bone mineral density causing fractures. Extra-skeletal consequences may be muscle weakness, falls and acute respiratory infection, and are the subject of large ongoing clinical trials. The ECTS advises to improve vitamin D status by food fortification and the use of vitamin D supplements in risk groups. Fortification of foods by adding vitamin D to dairy products, bread and cereals can improve the vitamin D status of the whole population, but quality assurance monitoring is needed to prevent intoxication. Specific risk groups such as infants and children up to 3 years, pregnant women, older persons and non-Western immigrants should routinely receive vitamin D supplements. Future research should include genetic studies to better define individual vulnerability for vitamin D deficiency, and Mendelian randomization studies to address the effect of vitamin D deficiency on long-term non-skeletal outcomes such as cancer.