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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 03, 2008

Hormones and Heart Disease

By Worker Bee
16 Comments

Endocrine SystemWe aren’t talking estrogen here, but this latest news does concern the ladies of the community.

In the recent “Hunt Study” conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science, women with thyroid function in the less active part of the “normal” clinical reference range showed an increased risk for fatal coronary heart disease relative to those with numbers in the more active part of the clinical range.

The findings were based on a follow-up with 17,311 women and 8,002 men who had shown no signs of heart disease, diabetes or thyroid disorder at the beginning of the study in the mid-1990s. All participants were 40 years or older when initial tests were done to measure levels of thyrotropin, a hormone released by the pituitary gland that is known to stimulate the thyroid. During the follow-up examinations that were completed in 2004, researchers found that 192 women and 164 men had died of heart disease. Of these subjects, none had shown signs of thyroid malfunction. However, women whose readings showed the relative lowest (but still clinically normal) thyroid gland activity were “69 percent more likely to die from heart disease than women with more active glands.”

Compared with women in the lower part of the reference range (thyrotropin level, 0.50-1.4 mIU/L), the hazard ratios for coronary death were 1.41 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02-1.96) and 1.69 (95% CI, 1.14-2.52) for women in the intermediate (thyrotropin level, 1.5-2.4 mIU/L) and higher (thyrotropin level, 2.5-3.5 mIU/L) categories, respectively.

via Archives of Internal Medicine

According to the researchers, “These results indicate that relatively low but clinically normal thyroid function may increase the risk of fatal coronary heart disease.” The researchers noted that lower thyroid function has been associated with traditional risk factors for heart disease: “Emerging evidence indicates that levels of thyrotropin within the reference [normal] range are positively and linearly associated with systolic [top number] and diastolic [bottom number] blood pressure, body-mass index and serum lipid concentrations with adverse effects on cardiovascular health.”

The researchers added that no clinical research has studied the impact thyroid medication might have on this added heart disease risk. The study findings did not show the same connection between thyroid function and fatal heart disease risk for men.

We’ve always made the argument here that health is more than the sum of a few clinically measured parts. It’s ultimately a whole package, an interactive design. Hormone balance is absolutely key to good health, and an imbalance is assuredly sign of wider havoc. Thyroid function is part of the body’s intricate hormonal symphony and is tied to a number of lifestyle related choices and circumstances, including environmental toxin exposure (most notably but not exclusively perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel that is present in water and milk and has been linked to thyroid malfunction in animal studies) and chronic inflammation that may be caused by factors like a consistently poor diet and/or autoimmune disorder.

We always advise making the most of preventative medical care. For women in particular, getting a thyroid function test and talking about the results with your doctor is one step toward knowing more and taking charge.

Questions? Comments? Experiences in this area and suggestions to add?

Further Reading:

Yoga Good for Reducing Breast Cancer Risk

Top 10 Reasons to Stay Healthy

Questions About Soy Formula

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16 Comments on "Hormones and Heart Disease"

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Anna
8 years 4 months ago
The worst part of this is it just too often very difficult to get not only a proper diagnosis for low thyroid function, but even with a diagnosis, it is very difficult to get proper treatment that not only gets the lab results back in line, but also helps the patient to feel better. Too many doctors simply leave the patient “high and dry” because they simply prescribe synthetic T4, get the lab result to a range they like, but still leave the patient not feeling well enough. If the patient still feels unwell, out comes the antidepressant samples or… Read more »
Crystal
Crystal
8 years 4 months ago
Anna-I was just about to give my rant when I noticed your post. I can talk about this topic all day long….and I do. There are so many people suffering(whatever the cause)with hypoT., hypoP., and adrenal insuffiency. What makes it so horrible is that most physicians do not have a clue how to treat. Often, patients are diagnosed with several different conditions and are prescribed several different medications. Almost always, a doctor will prescribe SSRIs, BENZOs, or the like. In fact, I’d say that people with this condition keep the drug pushers in business. Thyrotropin(hypothalamus) stimulates the pituitary to produce… Read more »
Crystal
Crystal
8 years 4 months ago

Forgot to add:

Anna-I as well have struggled for 25 years(I’m 38 years old now). It’s so pathetic to see people who have suffered for so many years due to medical incompetence. I’ve made it my full time job (especially the last year and half)to getting myself better.

Anna
8 years 4 months ago
Crystal, Yup! There are so many of us with thyroid frustration stories, it’s sad to say. And there are many, many more who have no clue that it is their thyroid that is causing their struggles. Like you said, the drug companies are profiting. At first, I think the experience I had with my primary care internist when I realized that I might actually have had thyroid dysfunction after all, actually induced depression for me for a few weeks, because I felt there was no hope with a lab in my system that used an outdated reference range (I figured… Read more »
John T
John T
2 years 12 days ago

Hi Anna-
Here is a doctor who disagrees with your crucifer vegetable statement:

http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/cruciferous_vegetables_and_thyroid.aspx

What do you think?

Crystal
Crystal
8 years 4 months ago
I agree Anna. Sounds like you’ve done your homework and your doctor sounds like a winner. Glad you’re feeling better. The problem with the compounded stuff is that it is only T4 and T3 and as you said, T2 and T1 is important. I think that most people do just fine on armour at the right dose, assuming their cortisol levels are healthy—but I understand what you’re saying. Also, some hypoT. people have digestive issues as well and the compounded (time-released) doesn’t work quite right. Everyone needs to decide what works. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to… Read more »
Anna
8 years 4 months ago
Natural thyroid extract, whether in Armour or a compounded formula has the full complement of T1, T2, T3, T4 hormones, but in porcine ratios instead of human ratios. Conventional medicine thinks T1 & T2 are not important, because that’s because CM hasn’t figured out what those hormones do yet! That noise you hear is my banging my head against the wall :-). I’ve been tempted to try Armour for comparison, but then again, it if ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? But one of these days I’m going to have to find a local doc and that might be the… Read more »
Crystal
Crystal
8 years 4 months ago
You’re welcome. I wish I had tested vit. D etc. before supplementing as well. My vitamin D is 34, not so good and I’m fair skinned. I’m now taking 3000 iu’s of D3 and will re-test later. Yes, it’s true, hypoT’s don’t convert to vitamin A very well either. You need to test your ferritin levels(iron storage). It should be at least 50 (70-150) is better. There is a direct relationship between iron and how well you use your thyroid hormones. Many people actually go a little hyper and have to lower their dose once iron is up. It’s frustrating… Read more »
Nic
Nic
8 years 4 months ago

I suppose the question that I find interesting is why this seems to hit women more than men and what is the reason for an increase? I can understand insulin resistance as it seems to be generally correlated with poor diet but thyroid disease seems to affect very healthy people (unless it is all genetic?).

Crystal
Crystal
8 years 4 months ago
Hi Nic- It does seem to be more common in women but I can assure you that men have plenty of hormonal problems as well, including thyroid. A lot of it has to do with an imbalance of estrogen/progesterone. Estrogen dominance binds thyroid hormones. This is a problem for both men and women. The adrenals play a big part. High cortisol will prevent the conversion of T4 to T3(active hormone). Eventually this could lead to low cortisol. Cortisol is needed to absorb thyroid hormones out of the blood and into the tissues. Hashimottos thyroiditis is a very common autoimmune disease.… Read more »
Natural Cures for Hypothyroidism

Did you know that thyroid health is a concern for nearly 11 million Americans? And, a healthy thyroid supports healthy weight and cholesterol?

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[…] Hormones and Heart Disease […]

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[…] study reminded us of earlier news we reported on a few weeks ago. The “Hunt study” showed that thyroid function in the less […]

Caroline Campbell
Caroline Campbell
4 years 9 months ago

Is thyrotropin level the same as the TSH value in blood tests?
Thanks,

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[…] hormones are probably (depending on age, gender, and exposure to attractive members of opposite/same sex) […]

Eva Morris
Eva Morris
12 days 12 hours ago

Interesting information. I read similar article on Wellness MGT corp. website

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