Subclinical Hypothyroid Linked to Atherosclerosis

January 28, 2012 | Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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 Subclinical Hypothyroid Linked to Atherosclerosis
Hardening of the arteries, like wrinkling of the skin, is a common problem as we grow older. The issue is trying to not have your arteries harden too quickly and thereby result in poor quality of cardiovascular health that is life threatening at an early age. A new study says that those with subclinical hypothyroid as a singular health variable, regardless of other traditional risk factors, have increased signs of atherosclerosis.

Hypothyroid by lab test means that your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroxine,T4, and your brain is trying to get your thyroid to make more thyrotropin, or thyroid stimulating hormone, TSH. Subclinical hypothyroid, SCH, means that your thyroid is still managing to make enough thyroid hormone to be in the normal range of the lab test, but the TSH is elevating. This means that your brain is constantly “yelling” at your thyroid to make hormones. After a while, SCH typically develops into hypothyroid unless people figure out how to correct their struggling metabolisms.

The study analyzes 69 patients with newly diagnosed SCH and compares them to 30 healthy people. The SCH patients all had thicker carotid arteries, indicating more advanced hardening of the arteries compared to those without SCH. They also had higher blood levels of triglycerides and lower HDL cholesterol (in comparison with total cholesterol). Further statistical analysis showed that SCH, as a single variable, predicted hardening of the carotid artery.

It is typical in patients with metabolic problems that they have multiple issues, which makes it difficult to understand if one problem is causing or contributing to another. This study makes it clear that a struggling thyroid, and the problems that induces, is adequate to contribute to hardening of the arteries alone.

While it was not part of this study, it is becoming obvious that a collection of sluggish thyroid symptoms precedes SCH and would likely also lead to changes that help start the accumulation of plaque in arteries. My point is that if you work diligently to correct your thyroid symptoms, regardless of any lab test numbers, by fixing them you will improve the health of your arteries. However, as lab tests worsen, it simply means the problem is getting more advanced and locked into place. It will benefit you to take proactive action and stay ahead of this issue.

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