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Treatment of Hypothyroidism - Article
ABSTRACT: Thyroid disease affects up to 0.5 percent of the population of the United States. Its prevalence is higher in women and the elderly. The management of hypothyroidism focuses on ensuring that patients receive appropriate thyroid hormone replacement therapy and monitoring their response. Hormone replacement should be initiated in a low dosage, especially in the elderly and in patients prone to cardiac problems. The dosage should be increased gradually, and laboratory values should be monitored six to eight weeks after any dosage change. Once a stable dosage is achieved, annual monitoring of the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level is probably unnecessary, except in older patients. After full replacement of thyroxine (T4) using levothyroxine, the addition of triiodothyronine (T3) in a low dosage may be beneficial in some patients who continue to have mood or memory problems. The management of patients with subclinical hypothyroidism (a high TSH in the presence of normal free T4 and T3 levels) remains controversial. In these patients, physicians should weigh the benefits of replacement (e.g., improved cardiac function) against problems that can accompany the excessive use of levothyroxine (e.g., osteoporosis).
Subclinical Hypothyroidism - Cochrane for Clinicians
Myxedema Coma: Diagnosis and Treatment - Article
ABSTRACT: Myxedema coma, the extreme manifestation of hypothyroidism, is an uncommon but potentially lethal condition. Patients with hypothyroidism may exhibit a number of physiologic alterations to compensate for the lack of thyroid hormone. If these homeostatic mechanisms are overwhelmed by factors such as infection, the patient may decompensate into myxedema coma. Patients with hypothyroidism typically have a history of fatigue, weight gain, constipation and cold intolerance. Physicians should include hypothyroidism in the differential diagnosis of every patient with hyponatremia. Patients with suspected myxedema coma should be admitted to an intensive care unit for vigorous pulmonary and cardiovascular support. Most authorities recommend treatment with intravenous levothyroxine (T4) as opposed to intravenous liothyronine (T3). Hydrocortisone should be administered until coexisting adrenal insufficiency is ruled out. Family physicians are in an important position to prevent myxedema coma by maintaining a high level of suspicion for hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism: An Update - Article
ABSTRACT: Hypothyroidism is a clinical disorder commonly encountered by the primary care physician. Untreated hypothyroidism can contribute to hypertension, dyslipidemia, infertility, cognitive impairment, and neuromuscular dysfunction. Data derived from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey suggest that about one in 300 persons in the United States has hypothyroidism. The prevalence increases with age, and is higher in females than in males. Hypothyroidism may occur as a result of primary gland failure or insufficient thyroid gland stimulation by the hypothalamus or pituitary gland. Autoimmune thyroid disease is the most common etiology of hypothyroidism in the United States. Clinical symptoms of hypothyroidism are nonspecific and may be subtle, especially in older persons. The best laboratory assessment of thyroid function is a serum thyroid-stimulating hormone test. There is no evidence that screening asymptomatic adults improves outcomes. In the majority of patients, alleviation of symptoms can be accomplished through oral administration of synthetic levothyroxine, and most patients will require lifelong therapy. Combination triiodothyronine/thyroxine therapy has no advantages over thyroxine monotherapy and is not recommended. Among patients with subclinical hypothyroidism, those at greater risk of progressing to clinical disease, and who may be considered for therapy, include patients with thyroid-stimulating hormone levels greater than 10 mIU per L and those who have elevated thyroid peroxidase antibody titers.