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:
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.
“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.