Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?
Get Your Low Thyroid Properly Diagnosed and Corrected to Protect Your Heart Health
So is it true – can low thyroid cause heart attack? In a word – yes. Want to know more? Keep reading…
We all hear about how poor diet and lack of exercise can increase our risk for a heart attack. But did you know that low thyroid hormone levels can also threaten your heart’s health?
Your thyroid is one of your body’s most important glands. In addition to regulating your metabolism (how fast your body burns energy), your thyroid hormones play important roles in terms of your heart rate and your heart’s function.
This is especially true of the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine—better known as T3. The thyroid hormone T3 is responsible for keeping your blood vessels flexible. It does so by relaxing the smooth muscles within your vessels.
The Effects Low Thyroid Can Have On Your Heart
When your thyroid is out of whack, it can cause deficiencies in important thyroid hormones that are responsible for helping to maintain the health and function of your body’s vital organ systems, including your cardiovascular system.
- Low thyroid contributes to increased LDL (the bad cholesterol) and other unhealthy cholesterol levels that are known to cause heart disease. Increased levels of unhealthy fat and cholesterol in the blood stream can lead to atherosclerosis—a serious condition in which the walls of the arteries narrow and harden due an excess accumulation of fat deposits. The most common complication of atherosclerosis is a myocardial infarction—otherwise known as a heart attack.
- Low thyroid levels can slow your heartbeat to an unhealthy rate (below 60 beats per minute) and interfere with your heart’s pumping capacity. Together, these complications can lead to high blood pressure—another serious heart attack risk factor.
- Low thyroid can also have a negative effect on the capacity at which the heart contracts. This puts individuals with heart disease at higher risk for heart failure—a condition in which the heart is no longer able to pump a sufficient supply of blood throughout the body.
The Importance of and Problems with Getting Your Thyroid checked
There are a variety of symptoms that are associated with chronically low thyroid levels, but the early stages can be completely symptomless. This is why getting your thyroid checked is so important. What you don’t know can hurt you.
But there’s a problem with the routine thyroid function tests that many of today’s general physicians or family doctors order. Often times they only take into account TSH and free T4 levels. This is especially true when symptoms of low thyroid aren’t present. TSH and free T4 levels, however, can be inadequate indicators. Here’s why:
- TSH and free T4 tests were never designed to detect “problems” with the thyroid. They were designed to establish a “normal” reference range, and the accuracy of those normal reference ranges have been in question for years.
- The normal thyroid reference ranges have been changed not one, not two, but THREE times since they were initially established in the 1970s, and there is suggestion that they need to be adjusted again.
- TSH levels can fluctuate throughout the day. Your morning TSH level can be significantly different than your midday and evening levels. This, combined with the risk of outdated reference charts, can leave a person undiagnosed and at risk of a variety of health problems, including that of a heart attack.
To accurately assess the function of your thyroid, you need more than a single TSH and free T4 test. You need a series of thyroid function tests, complete with a T3 level, and an attentive doctor like myself. Not only do I understand the delicate nature of the thyroid, I understand the importance of taking the time to listen to my clients and address their health concerns.
Despite their continued complaints and symptoms, men and women with low thyroid continue to walk out of their doctor’s office undiagnosed and untreated. To ensure low thyroid isn’t being overlooked by your doctor, contact me for a complete functional medicine evaluation. In doing so, you just might uncover a hidden health condition that’s not only the source of your symptoms, but placing you and your health at risk.