Even subclinical hypothyroidism increases the risk for atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction, said Netherlands-based researchers in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2000;132:270–278).
The risk of overt hypothyroidism is well known, but the recent study by Hak and colleagues at the Erasmus University Medical School in Rotterdam found an increased risk, even in women who were asymptomatic for hypothyroidism but had elevated serum concentrations of thyroid-stimulating hormone. All women in the study were characterized by normal serum concentrations of free thyroxine. The authors said that subclinical hypothyroidism is highly prevalent in older women; it affected nearly 11% of those in their study sample of 1149 postmenopausal women.
When the subclinical hypothyroidism was accompanied by antibodies to thyroid peroxidase (thought to indicate a more severe and lasting disease), the association was “slightly stronger,” said the authors in their commentary. “We found that subclinical hypothyroidism is highly prevalent in elderly women and is strongly and independently associated with aortic atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction,” they concluded. They said further study should be undertaken to determine if it would be beneficial to screen for the disease in particular populations.
- Copyright © 2000 by American Heart Association