The thyroid gland is the “master controller” of metabolism.
If you suffer from hyperthyroidism then you are likely to notice you have lost weight, even if you are eating normally or even more than before.1 You may also feel a fast heart rate.1
Key symptoms of hyperthyroidism
Watch out for the following symptoms:1,2
It is important that symptoms of hyperthyroidism are not left untreated as serious complications can occur. In addition, hyperthyroidism increases the risk for osteoporosis (loss of bone mass) and bone fractures, with women who have gone through menopause having an even greater risk.4
Symptoms alone do not reliably tell whether you have hyperthyroidism; physical examinations and blood tests are needed.
Who is at risk?
Diagnosing thyroid dysfunction
Thyroid dysfunction can be confirmed by your doctor through a simple blood test to check the level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormones in your blood.1
If you are concerned that you could be suffering from problems with your thyroid gland, please discuss this with your doctor. To aid your consultation download our Wellbeing Diary to help you keep a check of the symptoms you are experiencing, or try our short thyroid disorders symptom checker.
How hyperthyroidism is treated
According to the type of hyperthyroidism, your age and health status, and how serious the over-activity of your thyroid is, your doctor will choose a treatment option: that is best suited for you.
Anti-thyroid drugs prevent the thyroid gland from producing new thyroid hormones.1 Alternatively the thyroid tissue can be destroyed using radioactive iodine or by surgically removing parts of or the whole thyroid gland.1 The resulting hypothyroidism is then treated with appropriate medication.1,7
How thyroid hormones impact your heart
The heart is a major target of thyroid hormones. Any change in thyroid hormone levels will be responded to by the heart.
Too much thyroid hormone as a consequence of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) may cause:8
Without treatment, an under- or overactive thyroid will worsen or accelerate any pre-existing heart disease or cause new conditions.
Mild hyperthyroidism affects the elderly heart
Mild hyperthyroidism is seen in 0.7–12.4% of the population.9 Patients with an overactive thyroid are assigned to two categories: patients with low, but detectable TSH values and patients with undetectable TSH values.10 Patients with undetectable TSH are at greater risk for developing heart problems such as atrial fibrillation, which is an arrhythmia with chaotic heartbeat that causes poor blood circulation. This is most frequently seen in the elderly with later diagnosis and pre-existing heart disease.9
US guidelines recommend that patients older than 60 years with undetectable TSH values should be treated.10 For younger patients without symptoms, close monitoring seems appropriate.10
Date of preparation: February 2022