How Hypothyroidism Leads to Cardiovascular Problems
Hypothyroidism is a widely prevalent disorder. This disorder is due to the deficient secretion of the thyroid hormones. Several glands are concerned with the secretion of the thyroid hormones. The thyroid, the pituitary and the hypothalamus are all involved and therefore, deficiency in thyroid hormone secretion may involve any of these glands. Whatever be the source of the problem, metabolism drastically slows down. This is because thyroid hormone is a promoter of aerobic metabolism. It is for this reason that individuals affected by hypothyroidism feel lethargic and fatigued. Since metabolism is sluggish, energy conservation is reduced. Moreover, hypothyroid people tend to be obese or, overweight because, they are not expending enough calories.
Free Radicals Promote Diseases
Free radicals are highly reactive fragments produced during metabolism. The production and accumulation of these fragments results in oxidative stress. Scientists believe that the generation of oxidative stress is responsible for the onset of many of the chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and coronary heart disease. Human body possesses natural defenses against oxidative stress in the form of antioxidants. Diseases can arise when there is a deficiency in antioxidants or, when the generation of antioxidants is occurring at a rate which is far above the scavenging ability of the antioxidants.
Inefficient Metabolism Increases Free Radicals
Hypothyroidism results in inefficient energy conservation. Such circumstances lead to excessive production of free radicals. Hypothyroidism is associated with increased blood cholesterol levels and also with increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Coronary heart disease is the result of plaque formation in the coronary arteries which are concerned with supplying blood to the heart. Increased formation of free radicals in the body raises the level of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the main factor involved in promoting plaque formation in the coronary arteries.
Oxidized LDL is the Real Culprit
Cholesterol is sparingly soluble and therefore, is carried by lipoproteins. The major lipoproteins involved in cholesterol transport are HDL (high density lipoproteins) and LDL (low density lipoproteins). Cholesterol carried by LDL is called ‘bad’ cholesterol. This is because LDL carries cholesterol away from the safety provided by the liver. More dangerous than cholesterol in LDL is the oxidized form of cholesterol in LDL. It is this oxidized cholesterol which is easily deposited in the coronary arteries and becomes an integral part of the arterial plaque. Excess formation of free radicals is responsible for the oxidation of cholesterol in LDL. Thus, hypothyroidism promotes free radical production and therefore, coronary heart disease.
More Antioxidants Needed for Hypothyroid People
Hypothyroidism is also associated with other risk factors such as elevated blood triglycerides, hypertension and increased C-reactive protein levels. C-reactive protein is the best indicator of inflammatory levels in the body. Treatment of hypothyroidism is a complicated process and just as in diabetes, it is very difficult to fix a correct dose for hypothyroid people. Therefore, it is important to include more antioxidant-containing foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts in the diet in addition to thyroid hormone supplementation. This would help counter the increased free radical formation encountered in hypothyroidism.