Can Hypothyroidism Cause High Blood Pressure?

By Eleanor Jewell

  • Overview

    Can Hypothyroidism Cause High Blood Pressure?
    Just below the larynx lies the thyroid gland. This small, butterfly-shaped gland has a big responsibility, and if it is not functioning up to par, a catastrophic series of events can occur. A thyroid gland that is not producing enough hormones can cause damage to the cardiovascular system, raising blood pressure and increasing cholesterol levels.
  • Identification

    In order to understand the role that hypothyroidism plays in the development of high blood pressure, hypothyroidism must first be defined. Considered an autoimmune disorder, hypothyroidism is denoted by the body's failure to produce a sufficient amount of thyroid hormone. It is the job of the pituitary gland to signal the production of TSH, which in return, notifies the thyroid gland to begin producing T3 and T4 hormones. When this management system fails, production can be low are almost non-existent.
  • Effects

    The heart muscle relies on thyroid hormone in order to function to its full potential. When the production of TSH is low, cardiac function can be compromised. In some cases the risk of heart disease presents itself, making for a dangerous scenario. Shortness of breath may begin to manifest as a person becomes symptomatic, and heart failure is always a concern if the hypothyroidism is left untreated. This chain of events can also lead to high blood pressure once the hypothyroid problem is detected, and treatment has begun.

  • Misconceptions

    High blood pressure is often associated with hyperthyroidism, but this is not always the case. Once hypothyroidism has been identified in a patient, the endocrinologist will begin treating with thyroid hormones. This step needs to be taken slowly. If too much thyroid hormone is administered, the patient can begin to show signs of sub clinical hyperthyroidism which increases the possibility of high blood pressure. Therefore, the thyroid patient must be carefully monitored over a series of weeks to adjust the medication, until the proper amount of thyroid replacement has been reached.
  • Warning

    Hypothyroidism that is not properly monitored can have a devastating effect on pregnancy. During the third trimester, there is an increased risk of a woman developing high blood pressure, also known as preeclampsia or toxemia, especially if she has a pre-existing hypothyroid condition. This condition can lead to premature delivery and distress to the fetus. Therefore, if symptoms such as, water retention, sudden weight gain, swelling, headaches or blurred vision occur, immediate action must be taken by the attending physician. In most cases, bed rest along with further monitoring is recommended.
  • Considerations

    Because of the serious threat that the hypothyroid condition can have on cardiac health, doctors may consider regulating blood pressure with medications. Patients over the age of forty may at times be prescribed medications when their blood pressure rises above 160/100mm. Along with thyroid monitoring, dietary changes, and an increase in activity level, most patients are able to successfully avoid further cardiac complications.
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