Calcification
Overview
 
Calcification is the process in which calcium
Calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

 salts build up in soft tissue, causing it to harden. Calcifications may be classified on whether there is mineral balance or not, and the location of the calcification.
Calcification of soft tissue (arteries, cartilage, heart valves, etc) can be caused by Vitamin K deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency is a form of avitaminosis resulting from insufficient vitamin K.-Causes:Vitamin K-deficiency may occur by disturbed intestinal uptake , by therapeutic or accidental intake of vitamin K-antagonists or, very rarely, by nutritional vitamin K deficiency...

 or by poor calcium
Calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

 absorption due to a high calcium/vitamin D ratio. This can occur with or without a mineral imbalance.

Intake of excessive Vitamin D can cause Vitamin D poisoning
Hypervitaminosis D
Hypervitaminosis D is a state of vitamin D toxicity.The recommended daily allowance is 400 IU per day. Overdose has been observed at 1925 µg/d...

 and excessive intake of calcium from the intestine, when accompanied by a deficiency of vitamin K (perhaps induced by an anticoagulent such as warfarin
Warfarin
Warfarin is an anticoagulant. It is most likely to be the drug popularly referred to as a "blood thinner," yet this is a misnomer, since it does not affect the thickness or viscosity of blood...

).
Encyclopedia
Calcification is the process in which calcium
Calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

 salts build up in soft tissue, causing it to harden. Calcifications may be classified on whether there is mineral balance or not, and the location of the calcification.

Causes

Calcification of soft tissue (arteries, cartilage, heart valves, etc) can be caused by Vitamin K deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency is a form of avitaminosis resulting from insufficient vitamin K.-Causes:Vitamin K-deficiency may occur by disturbed intestinal uptake , by therapeutic or accidental intake of vitamin K-antagonists or, very rarely, by nutritional vitamin K deficiency...

 or by poor calcium
Calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

 absorption due to a high calcium/vitamin D ratio. This can occur with or without a mineral imbalance.

Intake of excessive Vitamin D can cause Vitamin D poisoning
Hypervitaminosis D
Hypervitaminosis D is a state of vitamin D toxicity.The recommended daily allowance is 400 IU per day. Overdose has been observed at 1925 µg/d...

 and excessive intake of calcium from the intestine, when accompanied by a deficiency of vitamin K (perhaps induced by an anticoagulent such as warfarin
Warfarin
Warfarin is an anticoagulant. It is most likely to be the drug popularly referred to as a "blood thinner," yet this is a misnomer, since it does not affect the thickness or viscosity of blood...

). This can result in calcification of arteries and other soft tissue. Such metastatic soft tissue calcification is mainly in tissues containing "calcium catchers" such as elastic fibres or sour mucopolysacharides. These tissues especially include the lungs (pumice lung) and the aorta.

Mineral balance

  • Dystrophic calcification
    Dystrophic calcification
    Dystrophic Calcification is the calcification occurring in degenerated or necrotic tissue, as in hyalinized scars, degenerated foci in leiomyomas, and caseous nodules. This occurs as a reaction to tissue damage, including as a consequence of medical device implantation.Dystrophic calcification can...

    , without a systemic
    Systemic circulation
    Systemic circulation is the part of the cardiovascular system which carries oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body, and returns deoxygenated blood back to the heart. This physiologic theory of circulation was first described by William Harvey...

     mineral imbalance.
  • Metastatic calcification
    Metastatic calcification
    Metastatic calcification is deposition of calcium salts in otherwise normal tissue, because of elevated serum levels of calcium in blood, which can occur because of deranged metabolism as well as increased absorption or decreased excretion of calcium and related minerals.It occurs as opposed to...

    , a systemic elevation of calcium levels in the blood and all tissues.

Symptoms

Calcification can manifest itself in many ways in the body. Several conditions can be caused by poor calcium absorption:
  • Tartar on teeth
    Calculus (dental)
    In dentistry, calculus or tartar is a form of hardened dental plaque. It is caused by the continual accumulation of minerals from saliva on plaque on the teeth...

  • Callus
    Callus
    A callus is an especially toughened area of skin which has become relatively thick and hard in response to repeated friction, pressure, or other irritation. Rubbing that is too frequent or forceful will cause blisters rather than allow calluses to form. Since repeated contact is required, calluses...

    es
  • Arthritic bone spurs
  • Kidney stones
  • Gall stones
  • Heterotopic bone

Location

  • Skeletal calcification
  • Extraskeletal calcification
    • e.g. calciphylaxis
      Calciphylaxis
      Calciphylaxis is a syndrome of vascular calcification, thrombosis and skin necrosis. It is seen almost exclusively in patients with Stage 5 chronic kidney disease. It results in chronic non-healing wounds and is usually fatal. Calciphylaxis is a rare but serious disease. Calciphylaxis is one type...

  • Brain (e.g. Fahr's syndrome
    Fahr's syndrome
    Idiopathic Basal Ganglia Calcification, also known as Fahr disease or Fahr’s Syndrome is a rare, genetically dominant, inherited neurological disorder characterized by abnormal deposits of calcium in areas of the brain that control movement, including the basal ganglia and the cerebral cortex...

    )

Pattern

Patterns of calcifications may indicate pathological processes. Laminated appearance suggests granulomatous disease while popcorn calcification indicate hamartoma
Hamartoma
A hamartoma is a benign, focal malformation that resembles a neoplasm in the tissue of its origin. This is not a malignant tumor, and it grows at the same rate as the surrounding tissues. It is composed of tissue elements normally found at that site, but which are growing in a disorganized mass...

. Malignant lesions may have stippled or eccentric lesions.

Treatment

Treatment of high calcium/vitamin D ratio may most easily be accomplished by intake of more vitamin D
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble secosteroids. In humans, vitamin D is unique both because it functions as a prohormone and because the body can synthesize it when sun exposure is adequate ....

 if vitamin K is normal. Intake of too much vitamin D would be evident by anorexia
Anorexia (symptom)
Anorexia is the decreased sensation of appetite...

, loss of appetite, or soft tissue calcification.
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