Health Care Providers Need To Consider Age of Patient When Treating Hypothyroidism

In a recent study conducted by a team of physicians, it was suggested that the age of a patient suffering from hypothyroidism should be factored in thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), a vital step in the treatment.

According to Maria Papaleontiou, MD, and assistant professor at the University Of Michigan School Of Internal Medicine, Ann Arbor and her colleagues, some healthcare givers overlook the age issues when diagnosing and treating patients affected by hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism389 participants drawn from the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, and the Endocrine Society were surveyed to ascertain the value of age in TSH which is used in hypothyroidism treatment.

The goal of the study was to try to understand the importance of age in treating the conditions and what the health care providers’ opinions were. This was to shed more light on this issue which has for many years been debated on by both patients as well as health service providers.

During the survey, 53% of the participants stated that patients focused on the age when trying to make a decision in regard to TSH as a way of dealing with hypothyroidism. 69.2% stated that the symptoms were a concern to the patient, while 65.7% indicated that cardiac arrhythmias was the most important. Other issues that cropped up included skeletal conditions, for instance osteoporosis at 43.4%, fractures at 27.2% while multiple falls was rated at 7.7%.

The decision making was also influenced by pregnancy (40.6%), conception (27.2%), while 12% of participants said that none of the above mentioned traits were important to them when seeking treatment.

Several aspects about the participating physicians were also considered during the survey with gender/sex being given 0.017, specialty less than 0.001, practice setting 0.01 and volume of patients less than 0.001. The group that considered age as the most important factor was endocrinologists (75%), followed by internists (43.8%) and family physicians constituting 5.6%.

The researchers noted that age played a leading role in determining the goal TSH when treating hypothyroidism and it was vital for health care givers to take note of this. Failure to understand the connection between thyroid hormone requirements and age could lead to negative side effects particularly in older patients.

Overtreatment using thyroid hormone replacement in older people is quite prevalent and leads to adverse effects, and going through records it is evident that a number of physicians do not consider the age of patient while determining TSH goal.