The thyroid gland’s primary function is to produce and release thyroid hormones, which influence metabolic processes and regulate numerous bodily functions. These include things like energy production and temperature regulation. In addition thyroid hormones influence your heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels too. So, even if the thyroid is part of the endocrine system, you may develop health issues resembling heart disease or experience worsening cardiovascular conditions if your thyroid gland has problems.
Because of this evident link between the thyroid gland and your cardiovascular health, it’s worth understanding how they affect each other. Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Common Thyroid Disorders
As previously mentioned, the thyroid gland is responsible for producing and releasing thyroid hormones. However, this isn’t enough to ensure your health because the hormones must also be balanced. If there are any irregularities, it can lead to thyroid disorders.
The two most common disorders of the thyroid are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The former is characterized as the overproduction of thyroid hormones and causes an accelerated metabolic rate. If you have hyperthyroidism, you may experience weight loss, anxiety, tremors, and excessive perspiration, among other symptoms.
In contrast, hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones for the body. Its typical symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, muscle weakness, and memory loss.
The good thing is that many thyroid conditions can be treated through medication and lifestyle changes. Depending on the situation, doctors may also recommend having a thyroidectomy. This procedure involves the surgical removal of the entire thyroid gland or parts of it.
The Impact of Thyroid Disorders on Cardiovascular Health
Thyroid disorders can have significant effects on your cardiovascular health. They differ based on whether you have an underactive or overactive production of thyroid hormones in the body.
Hypothyroidism can cause the cholesterol levels in your blood to become elevated. This then increases your risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is a condition where the arteries harden and narrow due to the buildup of plaque. This results in restricted blood flow to vital organs and tissues. If hypothyroidism isn’t treated, it can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Moreover, the underproduction of thyroid hormones can cause high blood pressure or hypertension. When there’s an insufficient amount of the thyroid hormone in the body, it can slow down the heart rate and make the arteries less elastic. This combination forces blood pressure to rise to ensure sufficient blood flow. However, this can be a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can damage the heart and blood vessels. This also puts you more at risk of developing cardiovascular complications.
Hyperthyroidism has its own set of cardiovascular implications. For one, abnormally high thyroid hormone levels can make the heart beat faster. This disrupts the heart’s electrical system. When the heart rate increases or heart rhythms become irregular, the risk of blood clots also becomes higher. Consequently, this increases the risk of stroke and other heart-related issues.
Maintaining a Healthy Thyroid for Cardiovascular Health
While some thyroid conditions can affect the functions of your cardiovascular system, you can take plenty of preventive measures to keep all your organs healthy. One of them involves your diet. We all know that a well-balanced diet is vital to supporting thyroid health. For your thyroid in particular, it’s important to consume foods that are rich in essential nutrients like iodine, selenium, and zinc. These include seafood, lean proteins, and whole grains.
It’s also a good idea to regularly exercise to help regulate thyroid functions and improve overall cardiovascular health. Some easy yet effective fitness routines include jogging, cycling, or walking; low-impact exercises like swimming and yoga are also great options. Additionally, yoga is an effective relaxation technique that can help manage stress, contributing to your overall well-being.
In addition to making these lifestyle changes, it is vital to reduce exposure to certain chemicals and toxins to keep your thyroid gland healthy. For example, bisphenols are known to be thyroid disruptors and should be avoided. Bisphenols can be commonly found in plastic products, such as food containers and water bottles.
Another known thyroid disruptor are phthalates. These are chemicals often used in the production of plastics and are found in many consumer products like cosmetics, fragrances, and food packaging. Make sure to stay away from items that contain this harmful chemical.
Given the thyroid’s significant influence on cardiovascular health, it’s best not to overlook the intricate relationship between the two. Also, consider adopting a proactive approach to thyroid and cardiovascular health. Finally, seek medical advice immediately if you experience persistent symptoms related to a thyroid disorder. With proper diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disorders, you can mitigate their impact on your cardiovascular and overall health.