In my previous blog, I discussed how hyperthyroidism can affect the heart. When I refer to the heart, I always focus on the major components that need to be addressed. They include the actual strength of the muscle, blood flow, heart valves and the heart's electrical system.
Once these are understood, we can delve into the issues that people may have with their heart especially as it relates to thyroid issues.
Hypothyroidism is a term referred to low thyroid hormone production. Many different disease processes may cause this type of abnormality. Common systemic symptoms include:
1. Fatigue, tiredness, weakness;
2. Dry skin;
3. Hair loss;
4. Difficulty with memory and concentrating;
6. Weight gain with poor appetite;
7. Shortness of breath;
8. Hoarse voice;
9. Excessively heavy menstrual cycles (later reduced menstrual bleeding or no menstrual cycles);
10. Impaired hearing
Again we will focus on the heart through the above model:
1. Heart muscle: Heart muscle weakness is uncommon with this disorder;
2. Blood flow to the muscle: Patients with low thyroid hormone levels tend to have high levels of cholesterol which may produce heart artery blockages, thereby reducing the blood flow to the heart muscle;
3. Heart valves: This disorder rarely affects the heart valves;
4. Heart’s electrical system: This disorder typically produces a weakened pulse rate, and slow heart rates (less than 60 beats per minute). In addition on the electrocardiogram (EKG,ECG) there are a number of changes that may be seen, including low waveforms, slow heart rates;
5. Other heart related changes that can occur with low thyroid levels include: fluid build up around organs in including the heart and lungs. When fluid builds up around the heart it is referred to as pericardial effusion. This can compromise the heart’s ability to effectively pump even though the muscle is strong. Luckily, this is usually occurs only with a long standing untreated hypothyroidism.
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Dr. Shukla - You are helping all your readers with this valuable information. Thank you. Before my diagnosis with hypothyroidism, my cholesterol was very high, my blood pressure and heart rate were very low. My doctor suggested I take cholesterol lowering medication. Then when I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and properly treated all these heart related issues went away without any need for cholesterol meds. I think often about how many hypothyroid sufferers are out there undiagnosed and taking cholesterol and/or blood pressure meds. I found out the hard way that not all doctors understand this disease as you do. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism following the birth of my first son in 2006 and experienced many of the symptoms you have listed. I trusted my doctors completely assuming they knew everything there was to know about this disease, especially when I became pregnant again in late 2008. How wrong I was! Under their care my TSH, the gold standard for measuring thyroid function, rose high above the safe range for pregnancy and I miscarried. I vowed to myself that I would research everything there was to know about hypothyroidism and warn other women. I fulfilled my vow and launched my blog Hypothyroidmom.com in memory of the baby I lost to hypothyroidism.October 21, 2012 - 6:17am
This article is intriguing, I've been experiencing heart palpitations, even after no vigourous or even moderate activity. It sometimes takes my breath away for a few minutes and I have to sit down. After some difficulty finding a new primary physician, I've finally secured an appointment with one and will bring up this issue in addition to the other, more widely recognized symptoms of hypothyroidism, which I've also been experiencing. Thank you for your concise, very relevant information regarding this condition that I wouldn't have known to ask about otherwise.November 23, 2008 - 7:04am