Dr. Broda Barnes, M.D., world renowned author and expert on thyroid gland function, stated: “the first symptom of hypothyroidism (sluggish thyroid) a patient may notice could be a heart attack!” Doctors and patients do not often recognize the subtle warning signs of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, cold extremities, constipation, or dry skin. Many patients are erroneously told their thyroid function is normal based on TSH and other too basic blood lab tests. As mentioned in the previous article, those patients of Dr. Barnes taking desiccated thyroid supplement had a heart attack rate decrease of 90% as per the equivalent population study of the Framingham Study.
The heart muscle is profoundly affected in hypothyroidism. The muscle is infiltrated with mucin, weakens, and then is unable to pump blood efficiently. This condition is termed congestive heart failure (CHF), failure of the heart due to a drop in cardiac output, or pumping ability. It is estimated that 5 million American have CHF, and a half a million new cases are diagnosed yearly; 50% die within 5 years of the diagnosis. Dr. Mark Starr, M.D., thyroid expert, has treated thousands of CHF patients with desiccated thyroid supplements with expected resolution. He states:” throughout my years of formal medical training, not once did I witness the successful treatment of CHF with thyroid hormones.”
As previously cited, Dr. Zondek, M.D. was the first to publish a report linking CHF with hypothyroidism. In the early 20th century he demonstrated with X-ray the shrinkage of enlarged hearts within weeks of starting thyroid hormone therapy. In 1925 an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) was published describing Dr. Zondek’s studies, outlining the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure associated with hypothyroidism. The doctors described the shape of the enlarged heart in severe myxedema (associated with hypothyroidism) as “enormously dilated in all chambers.” This is the most common form of CHF. Follow up X-rays after the patients’ use of thyroid hormone showed a dramatic return to normal size. To prove that the thyroid hormones were responsible for the change, the hormones were stopped for six weeks. X-rays showed the heart beginning to enlarge. Thyroid hormones were again administered, and the heart size returned to normal!
The medical textbook printed in 1996 “The Thyroid and its Diseases” states: “pulse rate and stroke volume are diminished in hypothyroidism, and cardiac output is accordingly decreased, often to ½ the normal value.” The heart’s electrical system is also adversely affected by hypothyroidism. An EKG measures the electrical voltages of the heart. A low voltage emitted by a weakened heart was diagnostic of hypothyroidism according to Dr. Barnes. Due to mucin accumulation and infiltration in and around the heart, conduction of the nerves is impaired. This causes palpitations, arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation, and preventricular contractions. In practices such as Dr. Starr’s, most patients treated with desiccated thyroid hormones saw their heartbeats return to normal. Pericardial effusion and angina (chest pain) were also rare in patients treated by Dr. Barnes with thyroid hormones. Though Dr. Barnes book “ Heart Attack Rareness in Thyroid Treated Patients” was published in 1972, and over 10 other scientific studies uphold his premises, cardiovascular doctors neglect these findings in today’s modern medicine field.
Last but not least for this article is a discussion of hypertension (high blood pressure) as related to hypothyroidism. Dr. Barnes believed and demonstrated that decreased blood flow to the kidneys due to hypothyroidism was the underlying cause of most cases of high blood pressure. 80% of patients entering his study group with a prior diagnosis of high blood pressure had their pressures normalize with thyroid therapy alone.
Besides dosages and protocols for administering natural thyroid hormones and with it iodine, and balancing the other hormones especially adrenal hormones, my point in relating heart disease and heart attacks with hypothyroidism has been made in this and the last two articles in this series. As a holistic health practitioner and nutritionist, I work together with several medical doctors who open-mindedly believe and practice integrative medicine.