Thyroid Problems and Cholesterol Are Connected

Published Online: Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Thyroid disease can cause high and possibly deadly levels of cholesterol in the blood. Individuals with hypothyroidism—an inactive thyroid gland—will see their body's metabolism begin to slow down. The condition can lead to high cholesterol levels in the blood because the lacking thyroid hormone slows the liver's ability to process blood, according to Paul Jellinger, MD, president of the American College of Endocrinology. He explained that it causes an increased risk of cholesterol buildup in the arteries and around the heart.

Individuals with an overactive thyroid gland—known as hyperthyroidism—are not without risk for cholesterol problems. The condition causes a high metabolic rate that can artificially lower cholesterol levels, said Dr. Jellinger. The goods news is that both types of thyroid disease are treatable. Patients with hypothyroidism can avoid using cholesterol-lowering drugs by treating their condition. Individuals undergoing treatment for hyperthyroidism must monitor their cholesterol levels as their metabolism returns to a normal level.

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