Thyroid function in the euthyroid range and adverse outcomes in older adults

Anne R. Cappola, Alice M. Arnold, Kendra Wulczyn, Michelle Carlson, John A Robbins, Bruce M. Psaty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

Context : The appropriateness of current reference ranges for thyroid function testing in older adults has been questioned. Objective: This study aimed to determine the relationship between thyroid function tests within the euthyroid range and adverse outcomes in older adults not taking thyroid medication. Design, Setting, and Participants: US community-dwelling adults years of older (n = 2843) enrolled onto the Cardiovascular Health Study with TSH, free T4 (FT4), and total T3 concentrations in the euthyroid range. Main Outcome Measures: Incidence of atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, heart failure, hip fracture, dementia, and all-cause death were measured. Results: No departures from linearity were detected. Higher TSH was negatively associated (P = .03) and higher FT4 was positively associated (P = .007) with mortality. Higher FT4 was associated with atrial fibrillation (P < .001) and heart failure (P = .004). Compared with the first quartile, individuals with TSH in the fourth quartile had a 9.6 per 1000 person-year lower incidence of dementia (P < .05) and those with FT4 in the fourth quartile had higher incidences of atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and mortality (11.0, 8.0, 7.8, and 14.3 per 1000 person-years, respectively, all P < .05). Total T3 was not associated with any outcome. Conclusions: Higher TSH and lower FT4 concentrations within the euthyroid range are associated with lower risk of multiple adverse events in older people, including mortality. This suggests tolerance for lower thyroid hormone levels in this age group. Clinical trials are needed to evaluate the risk-benefit profile of new thresholds for initiating treatment and optimal target concentrations for thyroid hormone replacement in older people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1088-1096
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Volume100
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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