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Women's Health

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What Feels Like Stress May Call for a Thyroid Test


Even mild hypothyroidism can cause problems. The Colorado Thyroid Disease Prevalence Study found that people with mild thyroid problems tended to have higher cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels than those with normal thyroid levels.

The association between low thyroid levels and increased cholesterol and LDL levels worries researchers, because it suggests that hypothyroidism might add to one's risk of heart disease. Both you and your physician should be more aware of the early warning signs so the disease can be diagnosed and treated early.

Canaris recommends regular TSH tests for older patients -- particularly older women -- and for those with a family history of hypothyroidism; those with high cholesterol levels or hypertension; and those with possible symptoms that have changed recently, such as constipation or intolerance to cold. The American Thyroid Association, the American College of Pathology, and the American College of Physicians all recommend regular TSH tests for women over age 50.

Vital Information:

  • A variety of vague symptoms -- such as fatigue, aches and pains, depression, and memory problems -- could indicate low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism.
  • In a recent study, 10% of participants had low thyroid levels, and researchers recommend that certain groups of people get tested regularly, including older patients and those with a family history of hypothyroidism.
  • People with low thyroid levels are also more likely to have high cholesterol, suggesting that hypothyroidism may increase the risk of heart disease.
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