A practical contemporary approach to decision-making on subclinical hypothyroidism.
By José Augusto Sgarbi,Laura Sterian Ward Dec 17, 2020
Subclinical hypothyroidism (Shypo) is an increasingly frequent condition in common medical practice. Its diagnosis continues to pose a challenge since a series of non-thyroidal and temporary conditions can elevate serum TSH levels. In addition, the consequences of Shypo are still up for debate. Although detrimental cardiovascular effects have been consistently demonstrated in the young, they are less evident in older adults (65-79 years), and even more so in the oldest old (≥80 years). In the absence of evidence of any benefits of treating Shypo in patients’ clinical manifestations and unfavorable outcomes, the most effective decision-making approach should include a thorough investigation of the patient’s condition integrating all relevant clinical data, such as TSH levels, age, quality of life, comorbidities, cardiovascular risk, safety, and personal preferences. The decision-making process needs to take into account the risk of levothyroxine overtreatment and the resulting adverse consequences, such as reduction of bone mineral density, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation. Hence, current evidence suggests that individuals with TSH > 10 mU/L, who test positive for TPO Ab or are symptomatic may benefit from levothyroxine treatment. However, a more cautious and conservative approach is required in older (≥65 years of age), and oldest-old (≥80 years) patients, particularly those with frailty, in which the risk of treatment can outweigh potential benefits. The latter may benefit from a wait-and-see approach.
About The Author
José Augusto Sgarbi,Laura Sterian Ward
José Augusto Sgarbi
Unidade de Tireoide, Divisão de Endocrinologia e Metabolismo, Faculdade de Medicina de Marília (Famema), Marília, SP, Brasil, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Sterian Ward
Laboratório de Genética Molecular do Câncer, Faculdade de Ciências Médicas (FCM), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp), Campinas, SP, Brasil.