Thyroid Health May be the Key Missing Ingredient for a Healthy Heart
The human body is such a complex system of organs, joints, blood vessels and other parts that it’s difficult to keep up with everything all of the time. Quite often we don’t know something with one of these parts is off until we feel it or see it manifest physically on our bodies. This is why so many chronic health conditions, such as heart disease (the leading cause of death for both American men and women), are referred to as “silent killers.”The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine (hormone-secreting) gland located in the lower front part of the neck. This organ plays a major role in the metabolism, growth and maturation of the human body. Thyroid hormones control how your body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body—even the way your heart beats. Without enough thyroid hormones, many of your body’s functions slow down.
So if you have thyroid disease, your thyroid may produce too few (hypothyroidism) or too many (hyperthyroidism) hormones.
To learn more about the hormones the thyroid produces and how they affect the body, read here.
We may wear quality sunscreen to protect our skin (the body’s largest organ), maintain a nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods diet to protect our hearts and abstain from alcohol to protect our livers, but even the most health-conscious people may forget about the importance of thyroid health. Sure, eating healthily and not consuming alcohol is good for the thyroid, however, so many of us do not make a conscious effort to keep track of our thyroid health because it is generally not on our radar to do so.
According to the American Thyroid Association, an estimated 20 million Americans have some kind of thyroid disease and up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease do not even know that they have it. Furthermore, what causes thyroid issues is mainly unknown.
What we do know, however, is “Both an overactive thyroid and an underactive thyroid can have bad cardiac consequences," said Dr. Anne Cappola, who was referenced in the recent Medical Xpress report titled “A healthy thyroid can be key to a healthy heart.”
“Thyroid disorders creep up on you," said Dr. Robert Carey, who was also referenced in the report.
"They occur so gradually they're quite often not detected until you come to a physician. But the risks of ignoring them are largely cardiovascular."
Hypothyroidism, which is more common than hyperthyroidism, may cause a slower heart rate, constricted blood vessels, increased blood pressure, fluid retention and increased cholesterol levels, according to Medical Xpress.
Hyperthyroidism may cause an irregular heartbeat that can potentially lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure.
Women, please be especially mindful of your thyroid health.
The American Thyroid Association reports that one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. There are so many female celebrities that have thyroid issues, including Hilary Clinton, Gigi Hadid, Wendy Williams, Oprah, Sia, Zoe Saldana, Sofia Vergara and many more. Notice how thyroid disease seems to impact people of a variety of ages and ethnic backgrounds.
How can we be proactive?
I always stress that prevention is better than cure. But how do we prevent it if we are not aware? I hope this blog brings more awareness to the importance of thyroid health. Controlling your stress levels and following a healthy diet are important for thyroid health.
I believe it is also important to not self-diagnose yourself and attribute issues such as fatigue and sudden weight loss or weight gain to stress. This thinking often causes people to not investigate any further, leaving serious health issues to get worse with no treatment.
“Thyroid abnormalities are usually discovered through blood tests. Because heart disease and thyroid problems are linked, Cappola [the doctor referenced earlier] said, people with heart-related problems ranging from irregular heartbeats to high cholesterol to heart failure routinely undergo thyroid checks,” according to Medical Xpress.
“But Cappola said thyroid tests are generally not part of routine health screenings, in which people without symptoms are tested, as is the case with screening mammograms and colonoscopies.”
So even if you do not have symptoms, it might not be a bad idea to ask for a thyroid test at your next doctor’s visit (especially if you are a woman). Why not take advantage of all the medical testing available to us? Make getting your thyroid checked a routine part of your proactive healthcare regimen. For additional pH blogs on thyroid health, read here.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
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