The researchers discovered that people who had low levels of TSH were the most likely to develop AFib. The lower the levels of TSH, the more the risk of AFib increased. This means that people who have hyperthyroidism, or sub clinical hyperthyroidism have an increased risk of AFib occurring.
Hypothyroidism is much more common than hyperthyroidism. What this means is that if you are one of the many millions of people who have hypothyroidism, you are not at an increased risk of developing AFib. However if you have an overactive thyroid, you are at an increased risk of AFib occurring.
The researchers found that the risk of developing AFib due to thyroid problems was greater in younger adults than in elderly individuals. They state that when people at high risk are treated with antithyroid drugs for hyperthyroidism, the increased risk of developing AFib goes away.
The researchers stress that it is important for people to be screened for thyroid disease as part of routine physical examinations. One of the problems that they addressed is that many healthcare practitioners fail to treat subclinical thyroid problems. In the researchers' opinions, treatment of subclinical hyperthyroidism is important.
They discovered that among people diagnosed with subclinical hyperthyroidism, the risk of developing AFib increased after one year. According to the researchers, even people who are in the high normal range of thyroid function are at an increased risk of developing AFib. They state that people who have high normal thyroid function, subclinical hyperthyroidism, and hyperthyroidism should be regularly screened to see if atrial fibrillation is present.
I agree with their recommendations and believe that educating at risk people of the signs and symptoms of AFib should be a routine part of patient education.
Your Thyroid Gland and Heart
If you suffer from hypothyroidism you may develop changes in the structure of your heart, known as cardiomyopathy. You are at risk for developing hardening of the arteries, and accumulating excess fluid in the tissues of your heart.
In addition to being at risk for developing AFib, you are more likely to develop other cardiovascular problems if you suffer from hyperthyroidism. These include abnormal heart beats and tachycardia, which means an increased pulse rate. Your heart may beat in an erratic pattern. It may enlarge. Some people who have hyperthyroidism suffer from chest pain, also known as angina, due to not enough oxygen being available for the heart muscle.
What Does This Mean for Me?
If you have any diagnosis of thyroid illness, check with your health care provider to see what your current hormone levels are. Ask for a cardiac evaluation. Discuss the findings of this research with your healthcare provider if you have reduced levels of TSH, signs of hyperthyroidism, or symptoms of hypothyroidism that are not being treated.
If you have been diagnosed with AFib and do not know what caused it; ask your health care provider to check your thyroid function.
Complications of thyroid disease, including AFib, are preventable. The first step is to learn about the current status of your heart and thyroid.