Hypothyroidism in elderly

Authors: V. Vargová;  M. Pytliak;  V. Mechírová
Published in: Čes Ger Rev 2010; 8(1-2): 22-26


Thyroid dysfunction occurs frequently in the elderly population, yet often goes unnoticed. Hypothyroidism is common and increases with age affecting 5–20% of women and 3–8% of men. The classical symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism may not be so obvious in the elderly, and a high degree of clinical suspicion is necessary. Elderly hypothyroid patients may have less weight gain, cold intolerance and muscle cramps, and the hypothyroidism can be easily overlooked in these patients who also have a higher prevalence of other chronic illnesses, use of medications and cognitive change than their younger counterparts. In the aged, psychiatric symptoms may dominate, with most texts on psychogeriatrics listing hypothyroidism as a cause for depression, delirium and dementia. The effects on the cardiovascular system can be a major problem and include bradycardia, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, ischaemic heart disease, and pericardial effusions. Another diagnostics problems could represents euthyroid sick syndrome, common in critically ill seniors, and subclinical hypothyroidism. Treatment of the hypothyroidism in the elderly patients should be careful and closely monitored. Whether or not to treat patients with subclinical hypothyroidism is still debated and treatment decisions should be made on an individual basis.

Key words:
hypothyroidism – elderly – euthyroid sick syndrome – subclinical hypothyroidism


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Geriatrics General practitioner for adults
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