High cholesterol — it’s probably one of the best-known heart problems…
Or at least, that’s what the mainstream wants you to believe. That’s why, if it were up to them, everyone would be taking statins as if they were vitamins or something.
Unfortunately, there are two very big problems with just whipping out that prescription pad.
The first is that these drugs come with some major side effects, ranging from milder symptoms like headache, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, muscle aches and pains, nausea and constipation — to even more severe problems, including memory loss, confusion, high blood sugar and extreme muscle inflammation that can lead to kidney failure.
If that list of side effects wasn’t bad enough on its own, there’s the fact that you may not even need those drugs in the first place…
You see, your high cholesterol could actually be the result of a completely different health problem.
Yet, if you get this health problem under control, your high cholesterol may be a thing of the past, all without those prescription drugs and their scary side effects.
High cholesterol — a thyroid problem in disguise
According to the American Thyroid Association, an estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of these people are completely unaware of their condition. And, women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
Despite these figures, while most people’s yearly blood work at their doctor’s office includes a check on their cholesterol levels, many never receive a full thyroid screening.
This means that while you’re often aware that you have a cholesterol problem, you have no idea that your thyroid function is compromised. And, it just might be at the root of your other health issues.
The reason that an underactive thyroid could be behind your high cholesterol is because it is the gland responsible for producing the hormones that control your metabolism. If your thyroid gland slows, your metabolism slows with it.
This slowing metabolism results in your body being unable to clear out the extra cholesterol in your bloodstream. Instead, the cholesterol is deposited in your arteries and around your heart, increasing your risk for heart disease.
Even the Mayo Clinic has said, “Hypothyroidism may also be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, primarily because high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, can occur in people with an underactive thyroid. It is not unusual that when low thyroid function is addressed, (high) cholesterol will often return to normal levels.”
With this known connection, you would think it would be standard practice for anyone with high cholesterol to have a full panel of blood work performed to check on thyroid function, especially in women, who are much more likely to suffer from thyroid problems.
However, for most patients even with a diagnosis of high cholesterol, they are still not screened for an underlying thyroid condition. This leaves them to suffer for years, not only from the effects of high cholesterol itself and the side effects of the prescription drugs they’ve been given for it, but also from all of the other symptoms a low thyroid can present, including:
- Weight gain
- Dry skin
- Brittle hair
- Cold hands and feet
- Hoarse voice
- Muscle aches and pain
- Joint pain
- Poor memory
How to find out if a thyroid problem is causing your high cholesterol
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, your thyroid may be behind your cholesterol problems.
Ask your doctor to run a comprehensive thyroid panel to check your thyroid function. Just checking your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level is not enough.
You need to request a full blood panel that includes your TSH, total T4, free T4, free T3, reverse T3, Thyroglobulin antibody (ATA), and Thyroid Peroxidase antibody (TPO) to check for underlying conditions that could be damaging your thyroid function.
You can’t always rely on your doctor to know and run the tests you need. As my colleague Jedha Dening recently shared, doctors don’t always listen, especially to women. So be your own advocate and request the exams yourself.
You should also consider the importance of iodine on the health of your thyroid.