Whenever I talk about the heart, I always break it down into four major components that need to be addressed and looked after:
1. Actual strength of the muscle pumping the blood out of the heart;
2. Blood flow that brings nutrition to the heart muscle in order for it to pump effectively;
3. Heart valves that need to work appropriately in order to direct the blood too flow to the appropriate chamber;
4. The heart’s electrical system, which delivers the energy for the muscle to work appropriately.
Once these basics are understood, we can delve into the problems that people may have with their heart. In this article, we’ll focus on the thyroid gland and its effects on the heart’s tissue.
The thyroid gland is a complex endocrine organ. Essentially it’s an organ in the blood that produces a hormone that regulates many other tissues and organs in the body. This hormone is referred to as thyroid hormone (among many other scientific names.)
This hormone has important responsibilities to maintain normal tissue cellular mechanisms.
When the thyroid gland has problems regulating hormone release, it affects multiple organs and a woman faces as high as a one in five chance of developing thyroid problems during her lifetime. That risk increases with age and for those with a family history of thyroid problems.
While there may be many causes of improper thyroid hormone regulation, essential problems affecting the thyroid gland are referred to as hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid production) or hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone production). Each can have devastating systems in a number of different organs.
Here’s a rundown on how hyperthyroidism affects the heart.
Too much production of thyroid hormone can produce multiple symptoms in the body, including:
1. Hyperactivity, irritability;
2. Heat intolerance and sweating;
3. Fatigue and weakness;
4. Weight loss with increased appetite;
6. Decreased menstrual flow/ loss of sexual drive
Here's the ways that those symptoms can affect the heart:
1. Actual strength of the muscle: Any condition that weakens the heart muscle is referred to as cardiomyopathy. Congestive heart failure is when the heart cannot pump enough blood to the body. This is a rare condition associated with persistent long-standing untreated elevated thyroid levels.
2. Blood flow to the heart muscle: Anything that affects the blood flow to the heart muscle is generally referred to as heart disease. Typically a heart artery (the blood vessel that brings the oxygen, nutrition to the heart muscle) becomes blocked and the blood flow to the muscle is compromised, and thereby damaged. If patients have an underlying heart artery that is blocked, conditions that elevated the thyroid level in the body may provoke chest pains (or angina).
3. Heart valves: Typically patients with high levels of thyroid hormone in the body have a higher association of a particular valve condition referred to as mitralvalve prolapse. The mitral valve is the name of the valve dividing the left upper chamber of the heart (left Atrium) from the left lower chamber of the heart (Left Ventricle). In prolapse, this valve becomes weakened and bellows backward and may be associated with a leakiness of the valve causing a backflow into the left upper chamber as the left lower chamber in squeezing trying to push the blood towards the vital organs and out of the heart.
4. Heart’s electrical system: Most patients with elevated thyroid levels feel palpitations and have faster heart rates than usual. “normal heart rate” is typically between 60-100 beats per minute when not exercising or exerting. Patients with this condition tend to have faster heart rates even while resting (in excessive of 100 beats per minute). Another common manifestation of elevate thyroid hormone is an abnormal heart rhythm referred to as atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is a chaotic irregular heart beat that may drive the heart rates to greater than 180 beats per minute.
5. Other manifestations include: high blood pressure, strong pulse and a heart pounding sensation.
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