Research reports have linked low thyroid & irregular heart beat, as well as more serious conditions arising from undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Briefly, here we look at the numerous symptoms of hypothyroidism and the importance of regular physicals, which include simple tests for thyroid levels.
Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. It can be mild or severe and is typically treated with a synthetic thyroid replacement hormone. Some disagreement exists among health care professionals as to whether mild hypothyroidism should be treated, at all. However, it is recommended that the condition should be monitored closely and that person's suffering from mild hypothyroidism should see their health care professionals regularly.
In rare cases, hypothyroidism can occur in infants and children. Currently all newborns born in the United States are screened for the condition. Though rare, it causes serious developmental and growth problems.
In teens, the condition slows down growth, both in weight and height. With proper treatment, teens typically "catch up" with their age group.
The risk of developing the problem increases with age, with the highest risk group being older women. The American Thyroid Association recommends that all adults should be tested every five years, beginning at the age of 35. Other conditions, such as Addison's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism usually develop slowly over several months or years and are often confused with other illnesses or simply the aging process, itself. The symptoms include coarse and thinning hair, fatigue, weakness, sluggishness, depression, memory problems, trouble concentrating and constipation. The skin is cold, dry and has a yellowish tint. The fingernails and toenails are brittle.
Women suffering from the condition may have heavy menstrual periods lasting longer than normal. Less commonly, an enlarged thyroid gland develops, along with swelling of the extremities and face. There may be hoarseness, muscle aches and cramps. It is easy to see how these initial symptoms may be misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly or ignored.
Thyroid hormone is necessary for the proper function of all systems of the body. Research has linked low thyroid & irregular heart beat, as well as a slow heart rate, with weaker coronary contractions and reduced output. In other patients, an abnormally fast heart rhythm (tachycardia) has been noted, which improved with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. In other words, if left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause serious health problems.
Check with your doctor, if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism. For more information about the heart and normal heart rhythms, please visit the Heart Health Guide.