How High Thyroid Levels Affect the Heart

More than 30 million Americans — about 1 out of every 8 adults — have been diagnosed with heart disease, the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States. While high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are major contributors to those numbers, what many people don’t know is that heart disease can also be caused by an overactive thyroid (a condition called hyperthyroidism).

At Phoenix Heart, PLLC, our team uses state-of-the-art approaches to diagnose the cause of heart problems, including lab tests to check for thyroid activity. With locations in Anthem, Goodyear, and Glendale, Arizona, we make it easy and convenient for Arizonans to get the care they need for optimal heart health at every age.

Here’s how thyroid problems can affect your heart — and what symptoms to look for.

Your thyroid and your heart

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck, and it manufactures and releases several hormones that influence your overall health and wellness. Your thyroid hormones play a big role in growth and development, and they also help regulate your metabolism. 

One of their primary roles is to help regulate the way your organs function. While just the right amount of thyroid hormones keep your organs running smoothly, when the level of thyroid hormones is too high, it “speeds up” organ function, making your organs work harder than they should.

If you have an overactive thyroid, it can speed up your heart function, making your heart beat too quickly. Over time, hypothyroidism can “wear out” your heart, leading to what’s known as high-output heart failure.

Thyroid-related heart symptoms

Overactive thyroid affects your heart in different ways, and that means it can cause different symptoms, too. Knowing these symptoms can help you get prompt care to avoid permanent damage to your heart. 

Rapid heart rate

Since an overactive thyroid increases the rate at which your heart functions, not surprisingly, a rapid heart rate is one of the most common symptoms associated with high thyroid hormone levels. While we all experience a rapid heart rate occasionally (like when we’re scared or stressed), hyperthyroidism causes your heart rate to speed all the time, even while you’re resting.

Irregular heart rate

In addition to a faster heart rate, hyperthyroidism can also cause you to have an irregular heart rate or atrial fibrillation. Also called Afib, atrial fibrillation occurs when the upper chambers of your heart beat erratically and “out of rhythm.” Again, while occasional “blips” in your normal rhythm pattern generally aren’t anything to worry about, chronic irregularities can significantly increase your risk of stroke.

High blood pressure and chest pain

Finally, many people who have hyperthyroidism also have high blood pressure, in part due to the excess activity of the heart. If you also have atherosclerosis (clogged or narrowed arteries), elevated blood pressure can cause chest pain or angina, as well. All this excess strain on the heart can lead to an enlarged heart and thickened heart walls (cardiac hypertrophy), eventually causing heart failure.

An overactive thyroid can cause other symptoms, too, including:

Hyperthyroidism becomes more common as we age, and what’s more, the heart-related symptoms of overactive thyroid also occur more frequently in older men and women. 

Help your heart stay healthy

Monitoring your thyroid function is just one way you can prevent heart problems, especially as you get older. At Phoenix Heart, our cardiologists perform comprehensive diagnostic testing for heart-related symptoms, getting to the root cause of symptoms so your care can be tailored to your needs. If you’re having any type of unusual heart symptoms or if it’s been a while since you’ve had a cardiac evaluation, call the office or use our online form to schedule an appointment today.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Heart Healthy Habits Every Woman Should Embrace

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, yet many women don’t know what they can do to protect their heart health. In this post, we review eight heart-healthy lifestyle changes you can make starting today.

How Pregnancy Impacts Your Cardiovascular System

Pregnancy is a time of rapid change — for you and for your developing baby. Some of those changes involve your cardiovascular system. Knowing how those changes occur can help you and your doctor spot problems early.

6 Symptoms of Mitral Regurgitation

Mitral regurgitation is a common heart valve problem with serious complications. Recognizing its symptoms can help you get treatment early, so you can prevent heart failure and other potential problems. Here are six symptoms you should know about.

How Diabetes Affects Your Heart Health

Both heart disease and diabetes affect millions of people — and some suffer from both diseases. Here’s how the two conditions are linked — and how we can help you keep your heart healthy if you have diabetes.

Help! I'm Struggling to Lose Weight

Weight loss may not be easy, but it is extremely important for keeping your heart healthy (and the rest of your body, too). If your weight-loss journey has been filled with potholes and detours, medical weight loss can help. Here’s how.

3 Common Vein Problems

Your veins play an essential role in healthy circulation, so it’s no surprise that even common vein problems can have serious consequences. Here are three common vein issues you need to know about.