High Cholesterol and Thyroid Disease

Medical researchers know that there is a connection between high cholesterol and thyroid disease though many of the general public and even members of the medical community remain unaware of this reality. An estimated 98 million Americans have elevated cholesterol levels, and the reasons behind the condition vary. While most people with high cholesterol believe that heredity, diet or lack of exercise is to blame, these common causes of the elevated cholesterol levels are not always to blame.

In fact, a recent survey found that nearly half of adults who had been diagnosed with high cholesterol did not have any idea if they had ever been tested for thyroid disease, and nearly 90 percent of them did not know about the connection between thyroid disease and high cholesterol.

There may be tens of millions of Americans with undiagnosed thyroid disease as the underlying factor that results in elevated cholesterol levels. It is thought that low thyroid function is second only to diet as the cause of the condition.

How are High Cholesterol and Hypothyroidism Connected

The connection  can be explained by the thyroid’s role in metabolic function. Basically, when thyroid function slows down, the liver has a harder time processing blood and removing cholesterol. For patients with undiagnosed thyroid disease, treatment for high cholesterol may prove difficult and unresponsive until the thyroid condition is diagnosed and treated as well.

Cholesterol levels, but not necessarily thyroid hormone levels, are part of routine blood testing performed during most physical exams. Despite the fact that there is a well-documented connection between high cholesterol levels and thyroid disease, many physicians do not automatically test thyroid levels when a diagnosis of elevated cholesterol is made. It is unclear why this is the case, though it may be due to a lack of education about the connection, or about thyroid disease in general among many members of the medical community. It is thought that up to half of Americans with thyroid disease remain undiagnosed.

High Cholesterol and Thyroid Disease Remedies

Before taking cholesterol-lowering medications, patients who are diagnosed with high cholesterol should ask to have their thyroid hormone levels tested. If thyroid levels are off, the condition may be treated with thyroid hormone medication or herbal remedies (depending on each person's situation and preferences), and cholesterol levels may drop significantly enough to eliminate the need for cholesterol-lowering drugs which can cause many side effects.

If you have both thyroid disease and high cholesterol you might benefit the most by getting started just with a thyroid treatment for several reasons. First, cholesterol-lowering drugs tend to have potentially serious side effects. Also, a prescription for thyroid hormones (if that's the route you take) is usually less expensive to fill than a prescription for cholesterol-lowering medications. In addition, proper treatment of the thyroid in people with thyroid disease and high cholesterol levels will not only help to get cholesterol levels to within normal limits, it will also provide relief from other symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and sensitivity to cold. So, investigate your options and talk to your doctor. We encourage you to be proactive, be involved and make a decision according to what feels right for you.


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