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Related Health Complications of Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism may contribute to the development of heart disease. Blood cholesterol levels may be increased, with some studies suggesting an increase in heart disease and heart attacks as a result. L-thyroxine treatment of hypothyroid patients is of value and lowers blood lipid levels by 10%-40%. Moreover, the efficiency of the heart's ability to contract may be reduced with hypothyroidism. Again, treatment with L-thyroxine treatment can reverse these changes.
Thyroid hormone requirements increase during pregnancy. For example, 25%-50% of pregnant women with Hashimoto's thyroiditis require an increase in L-thyroxine dose during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Fifty to seventy percent of pregnant women who have a history of thyroid surgery or treatment with radioactive iodine require an increase in the L-thyroxine dose.
Management of hypothyroidism in pregnancy is critical because untreated hypothyroidism can cause complications in pregnancy. Hypothyroid mothers have an increased risk for high blood pressure, low blood counts and miscarriages, and babies born to hypothyroid mothers are at risk for a lower IQ.
Screening for hypothyroidism during pregnancy with a TSH level test is recommended in women with a previous history of thyroid dysfunction, a family history of thyroid disease and/or other autoimmune disease, or a history of recurrent miscarriages.
Stephanie L Lee, MD, PhD, FACE
Sonia Ananthakrishnan, MD
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