“I have been on and off thyroid medicine for many years. What effect does thyroid disease and/or the medicine have on the heart?”
That’s a common question. More than 20 million Americans have an overactive or underactive thyroid, but many of them do not know they have the disease. The thyroid, a small gland located in the neck, regulates many vital bodily functions, including metabolism and digestive function. It has some effect on every organ in the body, including the heart.
If untreated, thyroid gland disorders can worsen heart problems or cause new ones. Common disorders involve either the failure to produce enough thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) or the production of too much (hyperthyroidism).
Thyroid hormone is important for the heart to function normally. When someone suffers from hypothyroidism, the heart muscle is weakened in both its contraction phase and its relaxation phase, which causes the heart not to pump as vigorously as it should.
Symptoms of heart problems caused by hypothyroidism are shortness of breath, slow heart rate, high blood pressure, swelling and worsening of heart failure.
Hyperthyroidism, caused by too much thyroid hormone, makes the heart work harder by increasing the force of contraction of the heart muscle. Symptoms of heart problems caused by hyperthyroidism include an increased heart rate, palpitations, shortness of breath and an increase in chest pain.
At the appropriate level, medications for both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can be a great benefit. Consult with a doctor on the best treatment plan for your condition.
Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline
If you have questions about heart attack or stroke symptoms, you can talk to a Western Baptist nurse free 24 hours a day on the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1-800-575-1911
Send your questions!
Do you have a cardiac question tugging at your heart? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to HeartBeat, 2501 Kentucky Ave., Paducah, KY 42003. If we use it in a future HeartBeat column, you will receive a Western Baptist Hospital door prize.