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Restoring Thyroid Hormones In Heart Prevents Heart Disease From Diabetes, Study Finds

Update Date: Jun 26, 2014 09:20 AM EDT

Administering low doses of a thyroid hormone to rats with diabetes helps restore hormone levels in their hearts, a new study is reporting. Low doses of thyroid also prevented deterioration of heart function and pathology, according to the study. 

The study provides the first clear indication that low thyroid hormone levels in cardiac tissue of diabetic individuals may be the major cause of their associated heart disease, the press release added. 

The study found that diabetes triggered low thyroid levels that contribute to heart failure. Researchers said in animal models, administering low doses of the active form of thyroid hormone, T3, prevented the progression of heart disease. 

"This treatment prevented the abnormal changes in gene expression, tissue pathology, and heart function," said study lead author and NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine professor A. Martin Gerdes, in the press release.

"The clinical implications are profound and far-reaching because it suggests that the heart disease associated with diabetes may be easily preventable," Gerdes added. "And importantly, the dose we gave of T3 hormone did not significantly change the serum (blood) thyroid hormone levels but it was enough to make all the difference in the heart tissue."

Thyroid levels are usually measured by blood tests however the research suggested that thyroid hormone levels in cardiac tissue do not necessarily correspond with blood test readings of thyroid levels.

"A low thyroid condition can cause heart failure by itself," said Gerdes. "The fundamental question we should be asking about patients with heart failure is: how much is due to the diagnosed disease and how much is due to low thyroid levels in the heart? There clearly needs to be more awareness with regard to research examining the impact of low thyroid hormone levels in the heart and the role this condition plays in acceleration of heart failure."

The study has been published in the online edition of Molecular Medicine.

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