Thyroid conditions have prominence and incidence in Puerto Rico from 20% to 23% of the population, with a significant impact on cardiovascular diseases, which are one of the main causes of death in the Island and in the world.
Given these facts, using the celebration of the Month of prevention and treatment of thyroid diseases, a group of doctors specializing in endocrinology agreed to convey the message of the need, in the presence of symptoms that indicate problems. In common, patients work together with their doctors, so that they have proven tests and, if necessary, provide the most suitable treatment for each patient as soon as possible.
The thyroid gland is an organ found at the base of the neck and produces hormones that are involved in regulating heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, the reproductive system, fat metabolism, and other aspects of metabolism.
The most common thyroid disorders are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
As explained by Dr. Leticia Hernández, endocrinologist and president of the Puerto Rican Society of Endocrinology and Diabetology (SPED), that they see the most frequent cases of “hypothyroidism, caused in this case, in our side of the world.” an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease, where our body attacks thyroid and hormone production.
He explained that thyroid conditions “can have manifestations at the cardiovascular level”, which should be observed by both doctors and patients.
“In hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, we usually notice these cardiovascular manifestations, because the patient, when presenting palpitations, is aware of what is wrong with the cardiovascular system, the heart beats faster than usual,” he explained.
“But in someone who lives with hypothyroidism, these manifestations are so easily perceived and can often be hidden from the patient and the doctor”, he asserted, adding that hypothyroidism affects, among other things, contractions of the heart., resistance. heart rate and low heart density or bad cholesterol.
The problem is even more relevant when it is taken into account that it is estimated that 40% of people with hypothyroidism also have hypertension.
In particular, “the pressure that is affected is the diastolic pressure or the pressure below, because the heart does not relax enough to receive the blood that returns to this heart.”
The key, stated Dr. José García Mateo, endocrinologist and designated president of SPED, “have a clinical trial, early education for both patients and doctors, especially those primary care doctors who are most of these patients who have thyroid problems. and to know when patients have cardiovascular conditions that are associated with thyroid problems they can”.
He insisted on “good clinical judgment”, especially when “symptoms, especially of hypothyroidism, are very non-specific”, as well as the importance of “this early screening” if the patient has problems with hypertension, arrhythmia or dyslipidemia.
He said that there are cases in which the patient reaches high density lipoprotein (LDL) or high bad cholesterol and “when we take a good history and a good physical attitude, we see that the patient is hypothyroid and many times hypothyroidism can be treated; dyslipidemia is not necessarily treated directly.
Dr. Marielly Sierra, endocrinologist and secretary of the SPED Board of Directors, added that in the case of hypothyroidism, which “is a condition of an immunological nature, it tends to be hereditary and more common in women.”
Even a patient with hypothyroidism, “well controlled, thank God”, emphasizes that the symptoms can be non-specific, “very suggestive, which can be confused with any other condition or bad lifestyle”. But I really understand that wherever there is this family history, we need to do this preventive medicine.
Possible symptoms related to hypothyroidism include: fatigue, extreme cold, weight gain of five to ten pounds usually related to fluid retention, constipation, more brittle hair and nails, weakness, depression.
In the case of hyperthyroidism, symptoms can include: heart palpitations, excessive heat, excessive weight loss for no reason, insomnia, anxiety, behavior problems, concentration problems, mood problems, tremors, high blood pressure, frequent changes in the bathroom, in the eyes that are external they look (orbitopathy, serious disease).
But, with the right education and care, you can live as long as possible with this hypothyroidism or other thyroid disorder. A good example of this is the singer Nydia Caro, who gave her testimony as living with Hashimoto’s disease.
He said that he discovered the condition through an example recommended by his doctor. When he did not feel the signs of the period, they looked into his family to see if it was hereditary, and found that his mother also had the disease.
“Thank God that the doctors explain well. And with them I learned to ask for information about what I have to eat, how I have to treat it, what I don’t have, etc. It helped me a lot,” he said.
“I think obviously you have to work with the doctor, but you have to do the most important thing,” he said, adding that he follows the instructions of the doctor, and a certain diet, “which works for you and what doesn’t.”
He stated that “all the symptoms that Hashimoto’s can give me” include feeling faint or cold. But since I know how to admit it, I try to do what I have to do. Do the tests, see how the thyroid is, if you have anything, take it down.”
But the singer claims that he also works a lot with the permotivative side, including yoga exercises to work with breathing. In addition to looking at the concern in his voice, “especially a vegetarian diet helps me a lot.”
“That was my experience. And I’m still here, and I’m still a singer. It’s clear with the help of doctors,” Caro said.
Also participating in the activity were Dr. Félix Rodríguez Smith, undersecretary of the Department of Health, and who was in charge of reading the official announcement about the Thyroid disease raised in Puerto Rico, as well as Dr. Nancy Agront, Medical Director from AbbVie Puerto Rico. Rico is a company that cooperates with SPED in educational work.
Specialists indicated that SPED has several activities this month designed to educate the community and the medical community, including education for primary care physicians.
Those who need to obtain information in this matter are invited to participate in educational activities for the public, which will take place from March 9 to 12 at Plaza Las Américas, and from March 24 to 26 at Plaza del Caribe.