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What is Hyperparathyroidism?

Parathyroids are 4 pea sized glands behind a person’s thyroid gland at the front of the neck. These glands produce a hormone called parathyroid that keeps the proper levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body, which helps absorb calcium from food and keep the body from losing calcium through the urine. Hyperparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid glands secrete too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). A growth on the parathyroid gland can cause them to make too much PTH. Other medical conditions can also cause the parathyroid glands to make too much PTH.

When you have your annual exam or physical, your family doctor may suggest getting some routine blood work done. Frequently, in this blood work, your thyroid levels will be checked, especially if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed below. Hyperparathyroidism is most often suspected when a high level of calcium is found in blood on a routine blood test. The test result will help make the diagnosis even before symptoms may have developed.

Some of the symptoms of hyperparathyroidism include:

• Tired and weakness most of the time
• General aches and pains throughout the body
• Heartburn
• Nausea and vomiting
• Pain in the abdomen or constipation
• High Blood Pressure
• An increase in bone fractures or breaks
• Confusion and poor memory
• Kidney stones

Back and Neck Pain

Normally the amount of calcium being absorbed by the bones is the same as that being lost. Ultimately this makes the level of calcium in the body stay the same. With hyperparathyroidism, more calcium is coming out of the bones than going back in. As a result the bones become weak, brittle, and slower to heal.

The calcium from the bones enters the blood stream and causes high blood pressure. This also creates a risk of developing kidney stones, because kidneys are trying to filter out extra calcium. This can also create excessive thirst and an increased need for urination.

More women develop hyperparathyroidism than men. It is also more common in older people. Women over 65 have 2 in 1,000 chance of developing this disease. People who have a vitamin D deficiency also have an increased risk of developing

Be sure to schedule your annual exam with your family doctor, so that your overall health can be checked. In these routine appointments, is where many underlying health problems, like hyperparathyroidism, are uncovered, leading to treatment and a higher quality of life.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD

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February: Heart Health Awareness Month!

In honor of this month’s focus on Heart Health Awareness, I wanted to share with you about a very damaging, yet common condition in America today.

Healthy Heart

It’s known as Arteriosclerosis (or Atherosclerosis).

You have seen commercials on television referring to Arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). This is a problem created in the body with the blood flow through the arteries. Arteries carry blood from the heart to various muscles and organs. When arteries become diseased they become narrowed or blocked this is called atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis. The most common complaint of people who have PAD is claudication.

Claudication is the pain in the calf or thigh muscle that occurs after walking. This pain may stop after a person rests for a while. Claudication occurs since not enough blood is flowing to a muscle because less blood is flowing through the artery that is supplying that particular muscle.

Claudication is also more likely with people who have atherosclerosis in other arteries. People with claudication may have had heart attacks or strokes. If you notice pain in your legs while walking please ask your doctor about your risk for PAD.

To check for claudication your doctor will check the pulses in the arteries or order testing in a lab. Another method of checking is to measure the blood pressure in the arms versus that in the legs. A drop in blood pressure may indicate a narrowing of the arteries. Surgery may also be an alternative to help treat symptoms of claudication.

Some of the risk factors linked to PAD include:

  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • cigarette smoking
  • older age

PAD and claudication are most easily treated with diet and exercise, and sometimes medicine. Stopping smoking is also recommended. A walking program is also very helpful. Walking 3 times per week for 30 or more minutes each time can help treat and prevent this disease. If you begin walking and the pain becomes too uncomfortable, stop and rest until the pain goes away; and then resume walking again until you have reached your goal.

Lifestyle changes can be tough to incorporate at first, as we all know “old habits die hard”. However, when you start to see and FEEL the drastic difference in you overall health, it will encourage you to keep at it!

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed


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What is Anemia?

Anemia occurs when blood does not have enough hemoglobin, according to WebMD. Hemoglobin is a protein in the blood that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Normocytic anemia is the most common type of anemia. Normocytic anemia can either be congenital or acquired. Meaning it could be something a person is born with or developed later in life. It usually starts slowly.

People with anemia typically get tiered easily, look pale and may feel dizzy or weak. Most often this type of anemia is found in routine blood tests.

Red Blood Cells


Anemia could also be caused by not having enough iron in the body. A number of factors can cause low iron: Lack of iron in the diet is mostly a problem for children and young women. Children who drink lots of milk and don’t eat enough iron rich foods and young women who follow diets are susceptible too. Growth spurts in children under 3 where their little bodies are growing so fast that the bodies are not able to keep up with the growth spurts. Pregnant women or those who are breast feeding need two times more iron than men. That’s why pregnant women may need to be tested for anemia and eat more iron rich foods. Blood loss is also a common reason for iron deficiency in adults. Heavy periods, internal bleeding, stomach ulcers, cancer or taking aspirin for a long time may cause bleeding in the stomach or intestines.

Therefore, it is important to check the reason for the anemia.

Anemia may have no symptoms OR some of these:

  • paleness
  • tiredness
  • shortness of breath during exercise
  • fast heartbeat
  • cold hands and feet
  • brittle nails
  • headaches

Some types of anemia can be prevented by diet by eating iron rich foods such as:
• Liver and other meats
• Seafood
• Dried fruits like apricots, raisins, and prunes
• Nuts
• Beans, such as lima beans
• Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli
• Blackstrap molasses
• Whole grains
• Iron Fortified bread and cereals

Some foods block the absorption of iron. These include coffee, tea, egg yolks, milk, fiber, and soy protein.

If you suspect you may be anemic, call our office today at (757)-488-3333, and we can schedule a routine blood test to determine your iron level. With treatment, you will be feeling much better!

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed

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What is Endometrial Cancer?

Endometrial Cancer is cancer of the lining of the uterus, according to the National Cancer Institute. It is the leading cause of gynecologic cancer in the United States. It is the fourth most common cancer amongst women. The most common sign of this cancer is unusual bleeding from the vagina especially after menopause. Therefore, any woman with such symptoms should be carefully assessed.

Certain aspects put women at risk for this type of cancer:

  • It is most common in women over 50 years of age.
  • Women who have high levels of estrogen in their bodies (some things that increase your risk for higher estrogen is being extremely overweight, and having high blood pressure or diabetes).
  • Using estrogen replacement therapy without taking progestin. Progestin seems to protect the lining of the uterus from the estrogen.
  • Having a first period before age 12 or going through menopause after age 50.

The evaluation of women with abnormal vaginal bleeding and suspected endometrial cancer, should have a focused physical exam with a Body Mass Index calculation and a pelvic exam that includes a visual inspection to evaluate the source of the bleeding. Basic lab studies should be performed to include a pregnancy test, complete blood count, Pap Smear, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. As well as thyroid check, liver check and other blood tests.


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Other diagnostic studies can also be performed to include an endometrial biopsy, which involves inserting a narrow tube into the uterus and removing a small amount of tissue that is tested in a lab for re-cancerous cells. Imaging tests may also be performed such as endovaginal and transabdominal ultrasonography. MRI and CT scans may also be performed.

Treatment of endometrial hyperplasia depends on the presence of atypical cells and the patient’s desire for future fertility. Treatment usually involves removing the uterus, the fallopian tubes and the ovaries. Women may also need to take progestin to balance out high levels of estrogen. Sometimes radiation therapy or chemotherapy is also needed. Treatment can be very effective if the cancer is found early.

Be sure to have your annual Women’s Wellness exam to check for any abnormalities. Call our office today, 757-488-3333, to schedule an appointment.

~Dr. Samir Abdelshaheed, MD



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Pneumonia: Symptoms and Prevention

During this time of year, with the flu running rampant, pneumonia is very commonly seen, especially after someone has had the flu.   Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It is caused by a bacteria or virus caused by irritants entering the lungs. The symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the risk factors and the type of pneumonia.

Lung Xray

Common symptoms are:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Mucus
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Chills

Anyone can get pneumonia, but it is more likely to develop pneumonia if you have a weak immune system, are a baby or young child,  are a smoker, or are someone over 65 years of age. You may be more likely to get the disease after having a cold or the flu. These illnesses make it hard for your lungs to fight infection.

Pneumonia is diagnosed based on a chest x-ray. For bacterial pneumonia, your doctor will probably prescribe some antibiotics, which will improve the symptoms in a few days, although the cough may last several weeks. Severe cases of pneumonia may require treatment in the hospital and antibiotics through an IV. Complications of pneumonia include pleural effusion and bacteria of the blood stream.

To prevent pneumonia, get a flu shot each year. Getting the flu shot will decrease your risk of contracting pneumonia. Even though we are in the heart of the flu season, it is NOT too late to get vaccinated. 

Call our office today, 757-488-3333, to schedule your flu shot.

~Dr. Abdelshaheed

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