Did you know that your thyroid condition is hurting your heart? No, I’m not talking about emotionally; hypothyroidism is literally hurting your heart! While the emotional repercussions of hypothyroidism are real, the physical toll hypothyroidism takes on your heart is extreme and most of the time we are totally unaware.
The thyroid is closely related to many bodily functions and when the thyroid isn’t working properly or when your thyroid hormones aren’t converting properly many issues will arise, one of them being heart problems and/or heart disease.
Now heart disease may seem like a big jump from thyroid dysfunction, but because the thyroid has such a big job in the body, the “jump” is more like a step.
The muscles in the heart that contract and pump blood through the body require thyroid hormones to function properly. When there is a sub-optimal amount of thyroid hormones the heart rate begins to slow (this is a common symptom among hypothyroid sufferers). Not only can the lowered thyroid levels result in a slow heart rate; if left untreated, an extremely slow heart rate can result in a heart attack. Hypothyroidism can not only lead to a decreased heart rate, but also cause the heart to beat irregularly.
In addition to an irregular heartbeat, patients with hypothyroidism tend to experience high blood pressure (hypertension). Again, the thyroid hormones are a necessary part of the cardiac function and they are vital to keep the heart vessels agile. When the vessels stiffen, the heart has a harder time pumping blood through which leads to a higher blood pressure reading. Health care professionals want to see the blood pressure close to 120/80 because hypertension has many serious side-effects including,
- Hardening/thickening of the arteries
- Weakened/narrowed blood vessels
- Cognitive issues
- Heart failure
As scary as this all may sound, there is yet another issue that can arise from hypothyroidism: high cholesterol (the bad kind). Cholesterol can be divided into two categories, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) known as the good cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) the bad cholesterol. The LDL can rise when you have hypothyroidism because, like most other bodily functions, thyroid hormones are needed to make cholesterol as well as get rid of what it doesn’t need. When an individual has low thyroid levels it causes a higher LDL which can lead to clogged arteries, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Your heart health is important and in order to make that a priority you must make your thyroid health a priority. If you experience any of the hypothyroid symptoms, speak with your doctor about getting tested and starting thyroid medication if needed. Also, if you have heart issues already, it may be a good idea to have your thyroid checked; who knows, that could be the underlying cause!