Now what?! I just finished clearing up a low blood count and a mild case of anemia (watch your aspirin intake folks - it's hard on the tummy) only to find my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) was above normal. TSH is excreted by the pituitary gland and stimulates the thyroid gland (nice video here - after the ad ends) to produce the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which in turn is used by various organs and tissues of the of the body. Suffice to say your whole body pretty much needs the stuff (follow or Google these blog links if you want to dig into this stuff). The key here is to realize that a high TSH means low thyroid function or hypothyroidism. The pituitary essentially tries to kick-start the thyroid to secrete more of its hormones by overproducing TSH.
Hypothyroidism has a number of irritating symptoms (severe cases can result in a life threatening condition known as myxedema coma). The most common are fatigue and depression. Here is the list of symptoms from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) for all of us hypochondriacs:
• Dry skin and cold intolerance
• Yellow skin
• Coarseness or loss of hair
• Reflex delay, relaxation phase
• Memory and mental impairment
• Decreased concentration
• Irregular or heavy menses and infertility
• Bradycardia and hypothermia
• Myxedema fluid infiltration of tissues
The real problem here is when and how to treat sub-clinical or mild hyperthyroidism. AACE has waffled in the past but their most recent statement is typical of head-in-the-sand traditional medicine; esentially, do nothing (gee, thanks, I was already doing that, slowly dying of heart disease, and feeling crappy in the process). Others disagree. Amazingly, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) makes a cautiously worded statement that suggests treating patients based on their symptoms rather than their TSH levels (what a concept). Mary Shomon (perhaps the "ThyroidHawk" of bloggers) takes a shot at the medical establishment in this article. Doubtlessly, the indifference and incompetence heart disease sufferers face is common among all the halls of traditional medicine.
I'll continue to update you on what happens in my "heart disease and thyroid saga." This is of particular importance to me since I discovered this article that suggests T3 rapidly lowers lipoprotein(a)! Oh, and you know darn well I'll be pestering Doctor Davis to chime in on the subject.
P.S. My next blog will update everyone on how the formation of the Lipoprotein(a) Foundation is coming. Suffice to say I am moving forward.