I have hypothyroidism, which I understand is quite common. I’ve had trouble finding the answers to many of my questions.
For starters, I had a heart attack four years ago — before I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition, and I want to know if it was caused by the lack of hormones from the thyroid. Also, I stopped taking vitamins because I remember reading that some vitamins keep synthetic thyroid from doing its job. Is this true? Finally, I’m a 48-year-old female who is about to enter menopause, and I’ve heard that some of the symptoms of premenopause are similar to thyroid condition symptoms. I’d appreciate any information you can give me about hypothyroidism.
I’m amazed at the number of questions I get about thyroid diseases — although considering how common they are (especially hypothyroidism), I shouldn’t be.
Any readers interested in learning more about hypothyroidism should also check my picks to the right, since I have discussed thyroid problems in the past.
The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland. That means it secretes its hormone into the bloodstream, where it’s distributed to all our cells. Basically, the hormone regulates the metabolic rate of our cells — with more hormone speeding up that rate and less hormone slowing it down.
As with any gland, hormones can be overproduced — this is called hyperthyroidism — or under-produced — called hypothyroidism. The gland can also become inflamed, develop tumors (either benign or malignant), and enlarge as a goiter.
Hypothyroidism produces many symptoms because of the reduced metabolism, including fatigue, lethargy, constipation, muscle cramps, dry skin, coldness, and hoarseness. Not all these symptoms may be present in someone who is hypothyroid. In fact, we now diagnose hypothyroidism in many people with no symptoms at all because of very accurate hormone tests. Also, many of these symptoms are nonspecific, meaning that a person can have them, but not be hypothyroid. For example, most people with fatigue are not hypothyroid, nor are most obese people.
I doubt very much that your hypothyroidism played any role in your heart attack, except possible that it may have increased your blood cholesterol — encouraging the development of atherosclerosis. You probably would have had to have been hypothyroid for many years for this connection to be important.
In response to your last comment, although menopausal women may exhibit fatigue, weight gain, constipation, etc., this varies from woman to woman. Since your diagnosis of hypothyroidism is already known (and I presume is being controlled with thyroid replacement) there should not be much confusion when you enter menopause.
About your comment on vitamins blocking the synthetic hormone from doing its job, I don’t believe this could happen. But the iodine in many multivitamin and mineral preparations such as Centrum can block the development of a healthy thyroid gland in a developing fetus, so iodine supplements should not be taken by pregnant women. Most Americans are getting more than enough iodine and don’t need a supplement.