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Scientists at the New York Institute of Technology have found that a common thyroid problem doctors usually overlook can make your heart fail. But there’s an easy solution to this health threat.
In lab tests, the researchers found that low doses of thyroid hormone should be able to restore thyroid levels in the hearts of people with diabetes and prevent heart dysfunction. According to researcher A. Martin Gerdes, the study shows that insufficient thyroid hormone levels in heart tissues of diabetics may be hurting their hearts.
In the research on animals, Gerdes and his team discovered that giving low doses of the active form of thyroid hormone, T3, prevented heart disease progression.
“This treatment prevented the abnormal changes in gene expression, tissue pathology, and heart function,” says Gerdes.
Your thyroid levels are usually calculated by blood tests. But Gerdes has found that thyroid hormone levels in heart tissue don’t always correspond with blood test readings. If you have heart disease and low cardiac tissue thyroid hormone levels, your blood test may still show you have a normal thyroid level. This can happen because the heart’s blood is diluted about 20 times once it exits the heart and joins the rest of the body’s circulating blood. Gerdes’ research consistently shows that low-dose thyroid hormone replacement may be a safe and effective treatment to help people suffering heart disease.
“A low thyroid condition can cause heart failure by itself,” says Gerdes. “The fundamental question we should be asking about patients with heart failure is: how much is due to the diagnosed disease and how much is due to low thyroid levels in the heart? There clearly needs to be more awareness with regard to research examining the impact of low thyroid hormone levels in the heart and the role this condition plays in acceleration of heart failure.”
Gerdes believes doctors are too cautious in prescribing T3: “There’s so much fear of overtreatment (with hormones) and inducing arrhythmias that physicians in general completely avoid treating heart patients with thyroid hormones. But we have established a clear treatment and monitoring program in this study that is safe and can be used in people.”