What are the effects of thyroid hormone deficiency?

Updated: Mar 03, 2021
  • Author: Philip R Orlander, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Answer

Deficiency of thyroid hormone has a wide range of effects. Systemic effects are the result of either derangements in metabolic processes or direct effects by myxedematous infiltration (ie, accumulation of glucosaminoglycans in the tissues).

The hypothyroid changes in the heart result in decreased contractility, cardiac enlargement, pericardial effusion, decreased pulse, and decreased cardiac output. A Swedish study, by Mourtzinis et al, found the rates of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism in patients with atrial fibrillation to be 5.9% and 2.3%, respectively, compared with 3.7% and 0.8%, respectively, in controls. [10]

In the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, achlorhydria and prolonged intestinal transit time with gastric stasis can occur in hypothyroidism. Delayed puberty, anovulation, menstrual irregularities, and infertility are common. TSH screening should be a routine part of any investigation into menstrual irregularities or infertility.

Decreased thyroid hormone effect can cause increased levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and a possible change in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol because of a change in metabolic clearance. In addition, hypothyroidism may result in an increase in insulin resistance.


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