Low Thyroid Function Linked to Heart Disease in Arthritis

It’s well established that inflammatory types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Now, a Dutch study shows that if in addition to the arthritis you have hypothyroidism – a condition in which the thyroid gland produces an insufficient amount of hormones – your risk is even higher.

“Evidence is accumulating,” explains study co-author Michael T. Nurmohamed, MD, PhD, a rheumatologist at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. “Rheumatoid arthritis as well as hypothyroidism are independently associated with an increased cardiovascular risk, such as heart attacks and strokes. If you have both, then the risk is amplified,” he says. The study was published online in March in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Read More (courtesy Jennifer Davis, Arthritis Today)

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2 thoughts on “Low Thyroid Function Linked to Heart Disease in Arthritis

  1. My thoughts: The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s. Doctors routinely diagnose hypothyroidsim with the TSH test (thyroid stimulating hormone), but patients, who often have symptoms for years (or even decades) before their TSH test indicates a problem, would benefit more from the test that measures thyroid antibodies so they could get treatment sooner – and potentially prevent the antibodies from damaging or destroying their thyroid glands in the first place. RA is an autoimmune disease, and autoimmune diseases tend to occur together, i.e. more than one per patient. I assume the Dutch study’s authors know all this, but I wonder whether raging antibodies are causing the heart disease, or is it due to the exhaustion and pain that keeps sufferers from exercising – a proven benefit for the heart?

    • It’s certainly worth a thought, and you’ve brought up some excellent points. In addition to osteoarthritis, I have a milder form of hypothyroidism, which drew me to the original article. Though it covered RA, I was curious about the findings nevertheless.

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