Left ventricular diastolic dysfunction in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism

B Biondi, S Fazio, E A Palmieri, C Carella, N Panza, A Cittadini, F Bonè, G Lombardi, L Saccà
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1999, 84 (6): 2064-7
Although subclinical hypothyroidism is frequently diagnosed, the decision to institute a substitutive therapy with L-T4 remains controversial. Because the cardiovascular system is considered a main target for the action of thyroid hormone, we investigated whether subclinical hypothyroidism induces cardiovascular abnormalities. Twenty-six patients (mean age, 36 +/- 12 yr) were evaluated by Doppler-echocardiography, whereas a subgroup of 10 patients, randomly selected, were reevaluated after 6 months of L-T4 substitutive therapy (mean dose, 68 microg daily). Thirty subjects (matched for age, sex, and body surface area) served as controls. Mean plasma TSH was significantly higher in patients (P < 0.001), whereas mean serum free T4 and free T3 concentrations, although in the normal range, were significantly lower (P < 0.001 and P < 0.005, respectively). Blood pressure and heart rate did not differ from control values. Echocardiogram examination showed no abnormalities of the left ventricular morphology and a slight, but not significant, reduction in the systolic function in the patient group. In contrast, Doppler-derived indices of diastolic function showed significant prolongation of the isovolumic relaxation time (94 +/- 13 vs. 84 +/- 8 msec; P < 0.001), increased A wave (55 +/- 13 vs. 48 +/- 9 cm/sec; P < 0.05), and reduced early diastolic mitral flow velocity/late diastolic mitral flow velocity ratio (1.4 +/- 0.3 vs. 1.7 +/- 0.3; P < 0.001). In the subgroup of 10 patients, thyroid hormone profile was normalized by 6 months of L-T4 substitutive therapy, whereas no changes were observed in the left ventricular morphology. Systolic function was significantly enhanced, as compared with pretreatment values (P < 0.01) but did not differ from control values. Also, systemic vascular resistance was significantly decreased by L-T4 replacement therapy. Assessment of diastolic function showed significant shortening of isovolumic relaxation time (77 +/- 15 vs. 91 +/- 8; P < 0.05), reduction of A wave (51 +/- 13 vs. 60 +/- 12; P < 0.01), and increase of early diastolic mitral flow velocity/late diastolic mitral flow velocity ratio (1.7 +/- 0.4 vs. 1.3 +/- 0.3; P < 0.001). These indices, however, were comparable with those of control subjects. These findings indicate that subclinical hypothyroidism affects diastolic function and that this abnormality may be reversed by L-T4 substitutive therapy.

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