Cholesterol problem? If it was from the thyroid?

Your doctor has probably warned you about cholesterol, the fatty, waxy substance that circulates in your blood. Too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol can clog your arteries and put you at risk for heart disease. High cholesterol can come from your diet, especially if you eat foods high in saturated fat, such as red meat and butter. But sometimes it is the thyroid gland that is involved. Too much or too little thyroid hormone can cause your cholesterol level to go up or down.

Here’s how the thyroid affects cholesterol.

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. It produces hormones that control metabolism. Metabolism is the process your body uses to turn food and oxygen into energy. Thyroid hormones also help the heart, brain and other organs function normally.

The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and directs the activities of the thyroid. When the pituitary gland detects a deficiency in thyroid hormones, it releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH instructs the thyroid gland to release more hormones.

About cholesterol

Cholesterol is contained in every cell of your body. Your body uses it to make hormones and substances that help you digest food. Cholesterol also circulates in your blood. It moves through the bloodstream in two types of packages, called lipoproteins:

– High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is good for your heart. It helps eliminate cholesterol from your body and protects you against heart disease.

– Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is bad for the heart. If LDL cholesterol levels are too high, cholesterol can clog arteries and contribute to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

Inactive or overactive thyroid

The thyroid can sometimes produce too much or too little hormone. A condition in which your thyroid is underactive is called hypothyroidism. When the thyroid is underactive, your whole body feels like it’s slowing down. You are tired, lethargic, cold and painful.

You may suffer from hypothyroidism if you have the following pathologies:

– Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and destroys the thyroid gland.

– inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis)

Other factors can lead to an underactive thyroid, including:

– removal of all or part of an overactive thyroid

– radiation therapy for cancer or an overactive thyroid

– certain medications, such as lithium, interferon alpha and interleukin 2

– damage to the pituitary gland caused by tumor, radiation or surgery.

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that occurs when the thyroid is overactive. When your thyroid is overactive, your body kicks into high gear. Your heart rate increases, and you feel jittery and shaky.

You may have hyperthyroidism if you have:

– Graves’ disease, a disease of the immune system that runs in families

– a toxic nodular goiter, which results in bumps or nodules on the thyroid

– an inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis)

How does the thyroid cause problems cholesterol?

The body needs thyroid hormones to make cholesterol and to eliminate cholesterol it does not need. When thyroid hormone levels are low (hypothyroidism), your body does not break down and eliminate LDL cholesterol as efficiently as usual. LDL cholesterol can then build up in your blood.

You don’t have to have very low thyroid hormone levels to raise cholesterol. Even people with mildly low thyroid levels, called subclinical hypothyroidism, can have higher than normal LDL cholesterol levels. A study by 2012 found that high TSH levels alone can directly raise cholesterol levels, even though thyroid hormone levels do not. are not weak. Hyperthyroidism has the opposite effect on cholesterol. It causes cholesterol levels to drop to abnormally low levels.

What are the symptoms?

It may be that you have an underactive thyroid gland if you notice these symptoms:

– weight gain

– slow heartbeat

– increased sensitivity to cold

– muscle pain and weakness

– dry skin

– Constipation

– Difficulty remembering or concentrating.

An overactive thyroid has almost all of the opposite symptoms:

– weight loss

– rapid heartbeat

– increased sensitivity to heat

– increased appetite

– nervousness

– tremors

– more bowel movements frequent

– sleep disturbances

Have your thyroid and cholesterol tested

If you have symptoms of a thyroid problem and your cholesterol level is high or weak, consult your doctor. He will give you blood tests to measure your TSH level and your level of a thyroid hormone called thyroxine. These tests will help your doctor determine if your thyroid is overactive or underactive.

When your thyroid hormone levels are only marginally low, you may not have need hormone replacement therapy. Your doctor may then prescribe a statin or other medication to lower cholesterol. If you have hyperthyroidism, your doctor will give you radioactive iodine to reduce the size of the gland or medication to reduce thyroid hormone production. A small number of people who cannot take antithyroid medications may need surgery to remove most of the thyroid gland.

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Hyperthyroidism. (2018).

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Rizos CV, et al. (2011). Effects of thyroid dysfunction on lipid profile. DOI: 10.


Wang F, et al. (2012). Thyroid-stimulating hormone levels within the reference range are associated with serum lipid profiles independent of thyroid hormones. DOI: 10.2012/jc .1133-1133

Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES can the information given replace the advice of a health professional.

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