Sluggish Thyroid, Triglycerides, and Blood Pressure

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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It is clear that elevated triglycerides (excess fat blobs in your circulation) and elevated CRP (an inflammatory compound made by your liver) are key indicators of eventual heart disease. These markers are also clearly linked to sluggish thyroid function. In fact, men at risk for heart disease under age 50 have a constellation of symptoms that include sluggish thyroid1, high triglycerides, and elevated CRP. Improving sluggish thyroid issues can also improve cardiovascular health.

Measuring Sluggish Thyroid

In an effort to better measure functional thyroid problems, a calculation has emerged based on multiplying your T4 score by your TSH score. TSH tells you how hard your brain is working to signal your thyroid to go. As it rises, even within the normal range, it means your brain is trying to get more thyroid hormone into action.

In actual hypothyroidism, T4 levels are usually low because your thyroid gland just can’t make enough hormone. Before that happens, however, T4 levels actually rise. This is a sign that T4 isn’t getting converted to T3 at the proper rate. In turn it makes cells behave as if they are receiving “hypothyroid-like directions” as not enough active thyroid hormone (T3) is signaling the cells. This is the sluggish state of thyroid function; as TSH levels rise out of the normal range it is called subclinical hypothyroidism. 

Even before subclinical hypothyroidism we have sluggish thyroid, which is accurately reflected by a rise in TSH (even within the normal range) and a rise in T4. This shows “thyroid resistance” similar to the idea of insulin resistance.  The T4/TSH product is rapidly gaining credibility as a way to predict this early stage of thyroid trouble.

Some of the first signs of sluggish thyroid or subclinical hypothyroidism include low energy, lack of coordination, or low body temperature.

Sluggish Thyroid & Cardiovascular Health

A study shows that the T4/TSH product2 is a very accurate predictor of diastolic blood pressure (the lower number), as it progresses from completely healthy into various shades of elevated blood pressure. This relationship held true regardless of insulin resistance or body mass index, indicating it is an independent risk variable for elevated blood pressure and consequent cardiovascular disease. This information is important because it shows one of the very first types of changes that happen to healthy people that starts them in the wrong direction on a path of ever-worsening cardiovascular symptoms and problems.

Improving Thyroid Function

The most common reason for elevating T4 and sluggish thyroid is a lack of the nutrient selenium, which is needed to convert the basic T4 into active T3, along with a lack of antioxidants to protect the thyroid gland and liver (the main site of T4 to T3 conversion). These issues are easily compensated for with good thyroid support nutrition.


Referenced Studies:
  1. ^ Sluggish Thyroid and Heart Disease in Men Under 50  Clin Endocrinol (Oxf).  Kvetny J, Heldgaard PE, Bladbjerg EM, Gram J.
  2. ^ Sluggish Thyroid and Diastolic Blood Pressure  Thyroid Res.  Katerina Saltiki, Paraskevi Voidonikola, Kimon Stamatelopoulos, Emily Mantzou, Christos Papamichael, and Maria Alevizaki.

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