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Is Your Thyroid Affecting Your Heart Health?
The thyroid is one of the most important glands in the body. What most people are not aware of is that problems with the thyroid can reverberate outward and cause issues in many other regions of the body, including the heart— even if your heart health is in good health in every other respect. A new Dutch study suggests that monitoring thyroid activity may hold the key to preventive heart care. Let’s explore what the facts are so you can educate yourself about the relationship between the heart and the thyroid.
What is the thyroid gland, anyway?
Many people have heard of medical conditions like hypothyroidism, but if you were to ask the average person on the street what the thyroid gland is, they’d probably struggle to give you an answer. It’s not that surprising— the thyroid isn’t exactly as universally known as say, the lungs or liver, but if you don’t know what they thyroid gland is and what it does, now is the time to learn, because it might be the most important gland in your body.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the bottom of your throat which makes up part of your body’s endocrine system. The purpose of this gland is to release hormones which regulate critical functions in other parts of the body. Essentially, the thyroid acts kind of like a clock in a computer that makes sure things happen in other parts of the system when they are supposed to happen. The hormones released by the thyroid regulate your breathing, heart pumping, body temperatures, menstrual cycle in women, central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, body weight and more.
The thyroid gland uses iodine obtained from dietary sources to produce two kinds of hormones: Triiodothyronine, or “T3” and Thyroxine, or “T4”. Excessive levels of T3 and T4 can lead to a condition known as hyperthyroidism, while levels too low can result in condition called hypothyroidism, each of which can lead to serious illness. It’s the high levels of a form of T4 called free thyroxine 4 which leads us to some recent heart-related findings.
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