When we think of the heart and heart conditions it is not often that the thyroid gets a mention. However, blood vessels and muscle tissues involved with the heart have receptors for thyroid hormones. These receptors are sensitive to any changes that occur in the levels of thyroid hormones circulating in the blood.
Thyroid hormones play a role in keeping a happy balance for the cardiovascular system. This happy balance also known as homeostasis, is the process that regulates the delivery of hormones and nutrients through the blood as well as removal of waste products through the blood stream.
Even small changes in thyroid hormones can negatively influence the cardiovascular system.
Changes such as hypothyroidism with or without symptoms, hyperthyroidism, and lowered levels of the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3).
Having too much T3 can cause symptoms that speed up the body such as
o Heart palpitations,
o Rapid or irregular heartbeat,
o Heat intolerance,
o Irregular periods,
o Increased bowel movements,
o Tiredness, and irritability.
Having too little T3 can cause symptoms the slow down the body such as
o Low heart rate,
o Intolerance to cold,
o Weight gain,
o Poor memory,
o Infertility, and
o Muscle stiffness
How does the thyroid link with the cardiovascular system?
Some potential mechanisms include:
Dyslipidaemia (abnormal amounts of lipids aka fatty acids in the blood), this can be seen in blood pathology results as
o Elevated total cholesterol,
o Elevated LDL (low density lipoproteins),
o Low levels of HDL (high density lipoproteins).
o These are important risk factors to be aware of when it comes to coronary heart disease and stroke.
Endothelial dysfunction (endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels)
o The dysfunction occurs when there is an imbalance between vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) and vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels)
o This can be caused by several risk factors including
High blood pressure
Lack of physical exercise
Blood pressure changes
o Including both high and low blood pressure
Thyroid hormones can also directly affect the heart
o Basically hyperthyroidism (overactive) is characterised by speeding up everything including resting heartbeat, blood volume, the amount of blood pumped into the heart and the speed at which the blood is pumped out of the left ventricle (ejection fraction).
o Hypothyroidism (underactive) is characterised by slowing down everything including lowered heart rate, weak contractions of the heart, longer systolic and early diastolic times, basically the preload is decreased and the afterload is increased (ejection fraction).
The ejection fraction is the measurement of the speed at which the left ventricle pumps out blood in each heart beat and it can tell a lot about the heart health.
When the ejection fraction is low it can show in signs and symptoms such as
- Shortness of breath
- Inability to exercise
- Fatigue and weakness
- Heart palpitations
- Abdominal discomfort, and
- Mental confusion
The good news is that with proper care and treatment ejection fraction can be improved.
With the thyroid and the heart being as intertwined as they are, blood pathology results play a large role in a Naturopathic consultation analysis and treatment plan formulation.
Who am I?
I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers. As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house.
Melissa Callaghan ND, BHSc, BTeach
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- Tags: Blood pressure, Cardiovascular disease, Cholesterol, Gut, Heart, Inflammation, Stress, Thyroid