SUMMARY OF THE STUDY
The study included 611 patients 60-80 years old with overt hypothyroidism treated with levothyroxine who were admitted to a hospital between 2011 and 2014. Labs including TSH and free T4 were collected periodically until the patients died or until the study ended in 2016. Patients were then grouped according to their TSH levels. A TSH level between 0.5-5.0 mIU/L was considered to be in the normal range. The authors found that overall death rate was 34% for all groups combined. More specifically, 28% died in the group with an average TSH of 0.5-2.5 mIU/L, 29% died in the group with an average TSH of 2.5-5.0 mIU/L and 54% died in the group with an average TSH of 5.0-10.0 mIU/L.
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS STUDY?
This study suggests that older patients who still had an increased TSH despite being on thyroid hormone had a significantly higher risk of death than those whose TSH remained in the normal range. They also found that the free T4 level did not influence risk of death. In older adults with hypothyroidism being treated with levothyroxine, physicians should aim for a TSH in the normal range in order to improve patients’ survival.
— Maria Papaleontiou, MD
ATA THYROID BROCHURE LINKS
Hypothyroidism (Underactive): https://www.thyroid.org/ hypothyroidism/
Thyroid Disease in the Older Patient: https://www.thyroid. org/thyroid-disease-older-patient/