10 Heart Numbers Every Hypothyroid Woman Must Know

10 Heart Numbers Every Hypothyroid Woman Must Know

Actress and model Gena Lee Nolin, who starred on the popular series Baywatch, is the first internationally-known celebrity to tackle worldwide thyroid awareness. The following post was recently included on her Thyroid Sexy Facebook fan page. This post convinced me more than ever that it’s time to shout louder, stand stronger and demand change together. February is Heart Health Month. GO RED FOR WOMEN WITH HYPOTHYROIDISM.

This is from a Thyroid Sexy member who posted this comment. Heartbreaking…

“We learned the hardest way possible about Hypothyroid and the heart. It has been 16 months and 5 days since we lost our 26 year old daughter and her unborn son to “Sudden cardiac death due to Hypothyroidism, due to Hashimoto’s Disease”

Know Your Heart Numbers

It is essential for every hypothyroid woman to know her heart numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol levels (total, LDL, HDL and triglycerides), and blood sugar levels. Do not be content if your doctor says your levels are “normal” or in the “healthy range”. It’s important for you to know the actual numbers. Insist on copies of your test results and keep a file.

According to Go Red For Women:

1. Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is considered a silent killer. It sneaks up on you, carries no symptoms and can put you at risk for heart disease.

Normal: Less than 120 systolic and less than 80 diastolic
Pre-hypertension: 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic
Hypertension: 140 or higher systolic or 90 or higher diastolic
Hypertensive Crisis: higher than 180 or higher than 110 diastolic

2.  Total Cholesterol

When cholesterol builds in the inner walls of your arteries over time, it hardens and turns into plaque. That plaque can narrow the artery walls and reduce blood flow, which can lead to blood clots, heart attacks or strokes.

Less than 200 mg/dL: Desirable level that puts you at lower risk for heart disease
200 to 239 mg/dL: Considered borderline high
240 mg/dL and above: High blood cholesterol. A person with this level has more than twice the risk of heart disease

3. LDL Cholesterol Levels

All cholesterol isn’t created equally. LDL (bad) cholesterol, when too much is present in the blood stream, can clog your arteries and put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Less than 100 mg/dL: Optimal
100 to 129 mg/dL: Near or above optimal
130 to 159 mg/dL: Borderline high
160 to 189 mg/dL: High
190 mg/dL and above: Very high

4. HDL Cholesterol Levels

HDL (good) cholesterol removes excess plaque from your arteries and helps to protect against a heart attack.

Less than 50 mg/dL: Low HDL cholesterol. A major risk factor for heart disease.
60 mg/dL and above: High HDL cholesterol. Considered protective against heart disease.

5. Triglyceride Levels

High triglycerides, a form of fat made in the body, can raise total cholesterol levels, and lead to high LDL and low HDL levels.

Less than 100 mg/dL: Optimal
Less than 150 mg/dL: Normal
150–199 mg/dL: Borderline high
200–499 mg/dL: High
500 mg/dL and above: Very high

6. Blood Glucose Levels

Adults with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without the condition.

100-125 mg/dL: Prediabetes
126 mg/dL or more: Diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes)

Evaluate Your Heart Disease Risk

Go Red For Women provides a great tool on their site that evaluates your chances of getting heart disease in the next 10 years. Take the Go Red Heart CheckUp.

Know Your Thyroid Numbers

The 6 heart numbers above are critical for everyone to know, however equally important are your thyroid numbers. Undiagnosed or insufficiently treated hypothyroidism significantly increases your chances of heart disease. Proper diagnosis and treatment can improve your heart numbers and reduce your risk.

Please ensure your thyroid blood tests include the following 4 critical thyroid numbers:

7. TSH

There is ongoing debate over the “normal” reference range for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Depending on the laboratory used for testing and the country where you live, the “normal” range in mainstream medicine for TSH is around 0.5 to 5.0, meaning that hypothyroidism is diagnosed only when a TSH above 5.0 is reached. Some doctors around the world use an even more conservative range and diagnose hypothyroidism only after a TSH of 10.0 is reached. By the time TSH rises above 10.0 or even 5.0, many hypothyroid women already suffer debilitating symptoms. Thyroid experts recommend a narrowing of this range. A closer look at this range is needed considering that hypothyroidism puts us at increased risk for heart disease.

8. Free T4

When the pituitary gland in the brain releases TSH, TSH stimulates the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of our neck to produce thyroid hormones. The majority of thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid are T4. There are binding proteins that attach to the thyroid hormones to transport them like little taxis through the blood vessels to cells all over our bodies. When they reach the cells, only the unbound “free” hormones can actually be used by the cells.

9. Free T3

T3 is the most active useable form of thyroid hormone that can be used in the cells of the body. The conversion of T4 to T3 is a critical piece to this puzzle. Optimum Free T3 levels are needed for thyroid health. Unfortunately mainstream doctors often do NOT test Free T3 levels. The focus on TSH and T4 in mainstream medicine is particularly disturbing given the studies published by the American Heart Association linking low Free T3 levels to heart failure.

Thyroid patient advocate Mary Shomon included important information about lab results in her article at About.com Thyroid Disease. Please read this very carefully. Take a look at where your scores fall in the normal range. The normal reference ranges for each test will normally be included to the right of your scores. If you don’t know your scores, insist on copies of your lab results and save them in a file.

Help, I’m Hypothyroid and I Still Don’t Feel Well

“More innovative doctors are beginning to believe that a TSH of around 1 -2 —in the low end of the normal range — is optimal for most people to feel well and avoid having hypothyroid or hyperthyroid symptoms. Similarly, some practitioners feel that optimal hypothyroidism treatment includes Free T4 in the top half of the normal range, and Free T3 in the top 25th percentile of the normal range.”

This is critically important because many hypothyroid sufferers are not feeling well, even though they are being treated, because their Free T4 and Free T3 are in the “normal” range but they are too low in the normal range. We are each unique and the lab ranges that feel best for us are individual. Work closely with your doctor to find what’s best for you. I personally feel terrible when my Free T3 level is in the lower half of the normal range. I feel my best with Free T3 in the top 25th percentile. Please know your actual numbers and check where they fall relative to the normal range.

10. Thyroid Antibodies

Given that Hashimoto’s disease is considered the number one cause of hypothyroidism in the US, every hypothyroid woman must also know her thyroid antibody levels.

GO RED FOR WOMEN WITH HYPOTHYROIDISM.

Thank you to Omnomnomnivore for including a link to my post Top 10 Resources To Find A Great Thyroid Doctor in 2013 in their article “Understanding Inadequate Thyroid Care”. Thank you.

About Dana Trentini

Who knew that little butterfly-shaped thyroid gland at the base of my neck could affect my life so completely? I founded Hypothyroid Mom in memory of the unborn baby I lost to hypothyroidism. Winner of two 2014 WEGO Health Activist Awards: Health Activist Hero & Best In Show Twitter. Connect with me on Google+

Comments

  1. Very encouraging that a site brings awareness to low thyroid and mothers. Much of the time this comes out after pregnancy, neither gynecologists nor internists are aware of this very prevelant condition

  2. Hi Dana. I didn’t know I had hypothyroidism until my doctor told me and then perscribed Levothyroxin. I’ve been on it now for 6-months but haven’t really seen or felt any different. How does one know if the medication is doing anything? Will my hair become fuller? Will I forget less stuff? Will I stop asking silly questions? :)

    Thanks!
    Darcie

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Hi Darcie, after 6 months you should experience some difference. Do you feel no difference? You should speak with your doctor about this because you may not be optimally treated. While many people do great on Levothyroxine, not all of us do. There are many different treatment options to discuss with your doctor and it’s about exploring them to find what’s right for you. We are each individual and what works best and what dosage is right for us is all individual. You need your doctor to explore this with you. First step is asking your doctor to test your Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies, as well as your adrenals, so that you have a complete picture of the problem. Here is a post with all the thyroid drug options and factors to discuss with your doctor. Best of luck to you. My most important piece of advice is to research this condition as well as you can so that you can be an advocate for yourself.

      http://hypothyroidmom.com/which-is-the-best-thyroid-drug-for-hypothyroidism/

  3. My sister has heart disease; she recently went to her regular Doctor for blood test and was informed her thyroid was low (she had been taking 150 mg. for some time) so her Doctor LOWERED her dose to 125 mg. She questioned this and was told lowering the dose was the correct thing to do. Please explain this to me.

  4. I’ve asked several doctors what to do when my T4 and LT4 are high, very high, yet the T3 and LT3 are very low. They say “nothing, keep taking your pill”. I’ve begged them to give me a pill with T3 (which is what I took all through childhood) and they turn their ears off. I’m so done with endocrinologists.
    How can you explain low T3 levels and high TSH yet very high T4? very simple! you’r body is not converting T4 into T3, does it require a phD to know that?

  5. Hi Dana,
    I’m so glad I found your site. My children are 22 and 17. But I just found out in June that I had an under active thyriod. My TSH was 1.20, he said this was in normal range.
    My T4 was 0.8, my T3 Reverse was 9. I was so tired all the time, putting weight on, could no lose it either. Went back to see doctor 2 months after starting meds. My T4 went from 0.8 to 1.0. Not much of an increase. He then put me on 0.5 MCG of Levothyroxine. See him in 3 months. Hopefully this will start to work soon. I have lost inches,my fatigue is not as bad. I use to crash by 2 pm. Now its around 8pm. So i’m improving. its not easy though. High LDL levels and Low HDL levels, Higher blood sugar. Been working on my diet. I love your site!!!! So much info that I was looking for! Thank YOU so much taking that leap of faith and launching this site!!!!!

    Thank You again,
    Martha

    • Dana Trentini says:

      Thank you so much Martha. Yes I’m so happy to took a leap of faith and created this site. Who knew a blog could actually make a difference in people’s lives. Happy to have you here. While Levothyroxine is the number one drug prescribed it does not work for all of us. For many of us we need a combination of T4 and T3 meds to be well. Be sure your testing includes Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies, Thyroglobulin Antibodies, adrenals, full iron panel including ferritin, and D3.

      http://hypothyroidmom.com/which-is-the-best-thyroid-drug-for-hypothyroidism/

  6. Ruth Schroeder says:

    Hi Dana,
    I have had Hashimoto’s since 2006, at least that’s when I was DX’d. I have never, since starting the countless times having blood work, had a decent level of FT3,I, like so many of us, took synthetic T4 up until about 2 and 1/2 years ago. At that time I decided to go on desiccated thyroid. I was seeing an Endo that was clueless as to how I should switch. He told me to start at 2 grains!! I knew this would result in going hyper…so I dosed myself. I really had no choice. I went from 150 Levo to 1/2 grain and then slowly worked up. I got extremely hypo, with a TSH of 30. and bottom of the range Free’s. I got up to 2 and 1/2 grains. Have been on that dose since. During this time, not 1 Dr. mentioned checking my cholesterol, no one checked it!! And I had a river of blood work done!! Even while on desiccated, I still have had lingering hypo symptoms. Up until mid October I was hoping to find an understanding, caring Dr. that could treat my disease properly, and help my symptoms. Never happened. And now I’m stuck on this dose for what may be the rest of my life. In mid October I had to go to the ER!! I felt so strange. But had no idea what was wrong. I learned that I was in Afib!!! I have never felt hyper, and blood work has, like I said, always been low in-range FT3. So now I am on so many pills. Everyday. I truly believe that being under treated for so long has resulted in this serious problem. Of course, no Dr. will say so

  7. I am 24 yrs old, and I have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism 3 yrs back. Recently i got to know my triglycerides level is high(469) and my sugar level is also at the borderline. And now every little chest pain and weakness in my legs and arms scare the hell out of me.

  8. Hi, I am a 28 year old women, and for a year and a half now I have been having some odd symptoms, mainly heart symptoms. My symptoms include, skipped heartbeats, slight irregular heartbeat, fast heart rate, pounding heartbeat, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, fatigue, coldness in left arm/chest, chest tightness, knot feeling in middle of chest when I bend over for a while, and probably more that I can’t think of right now. I have had the whole cardiac workup, and all they say is MAYBE it’s sinus tachycardia and a slight irregular heartbeat. Honestly though, they have no clue! Also, I was told I have borderline high cholesterol all of a sudden. Which is very strange to me, because I eat very healthy. I have recently started seeing a holistic dietician to hopefully get some real answers to my problem. She looked at my labs that the cardiologists had done, and said I am low on vitamin D. She also noticed they didn’t do a full thyroid workup, so I guess they just half assed it! She is sending me to my primary now to get my B vitamins, vitamin K, to check if my cholesterol is dense or fluffy, full thyroid workup, and to check my hormone levels. After reading this article and comments, it may be insight to what’s going on with my body.

    • Hi Ashlee, Of course whenever you have heart symptoms always be sure your doctor does full search to figure out the cause including sending you to a cardiologist to be sure all is okay with your heart. Sounds like you’ve done that though. Absolutely thyroid can wreak havoc on your heart. In my case the year I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, several months before I had blood testing to get life insurance and turned out all of a sudden that I had high cholesterol and high blood sugar. With proper thyroid treatment both my cholesterol and blood sugar level reduced to normal.

      Be sure you get full thyroid testing. Here’s what you need to know:

      http://hypothyroidmom.com/top-5-reasons-doctors-fail-to-diagnose-hypothyroidism/

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