Nearly all of the calcium that enters the body typically is used to strengthen teeth and bones or is absorbed by the blood. When the balance between calcium and other chemicals in the body is off, calcium may be deposited elsewhere in the body. In the medical condition known as brain calcification, calcium is not absorbed as it usually is, but rather is deposited in the brain. Diagnosis of this condition may be made with a variety of procedures including x-rays, computed axial tomography (CT or CAT scan), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Brain calcification may be triggered by a variety of medical problems. It may be associated with stroke or brain injury, or it may occur in tumors in the brain. Hypoparathyroidism, in which levels of parathyroid hormone in the body are abnormally low, may also be associated with calcification.
Symptoms of brain calcification may or may not occur in any given person who experiences it. They depend on the amount of calcification as well as where the calcium is deposited in the brain. Fahr’s Syndrome, an inherited condition, is one common manifestation of calcification in the brain in which calcium is deposited in the cerebral cortex and the basal ganglia. The cerebral cortex plays a role in consciousness, memory, awareness, and other functions while the basal ganglia assists in motor control and eye movement among other functions.
Consequently, symptoms of brain calcification may include problems with any of these functions. Neuropsychiatric symptoms range from mild, such as faulty memory or degraded ability to concentrate, to more extreme, such as dementia or psychosis. These types of symptoms are often the first to be detected before diagnosis. Headache, vertigo, seizures, and problems with motion and coordination are also common.
While age does not reliably predict the amount of brain calcification or its impact on neurological function, Fahr’s Syndrome is usually diagnosed in patients in their 40s and 50s. There is neither a cure for Fahr’s Syndrome, nor a standard treatment protocol due to the wide range of possible symptoms. Predictions for the likely outcome of the disease are difficult to make and vary widely from patient to patient.
A course of treatment for a patient is generally developed based on his or her specific symptoms. Drug therapy may be prescribed for symptoms such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and mental disorders. Anti-epileptic drugs may be prescribed to control occurrence of seizures. Patients are generally scheduled at least annually for ongoing assessment of their symptoms and review of and updates to their treatment plans.