February 12, 2016 – Thyroid Hormone


 Anchor lead:  Thyroid function is yet another value that changes as we age, Elizabeth Tracey reports

If you’re an older woman who’s taking thyroid hormone, you may want to talk with your provider.  A study by Jenna Mammen and colleagues at Johns Hopkins suggests that many people are overtreated. What’s known now is that thyroid function changes as we age and needs to be reassessed.

Mammen: What happens to thyroid function during aging?  Up to 25% of women in their 80s will look like they have abnormal thyroid function using standard reference ranges.  There’s a growing body of evidence that some of that what looks like abnormal thyroid function testing may actually be just part of the aging process, and that is not necessarily harmful and in fact may not represent underactive thyroid at all.   :29

Mammen says overtreatment with thyroid hormone can result in negative consequences, such as atrial fibrillation and consequent stroke risk.  She says everyone who is taking thyroid hormone should be assessed at least once a year.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.