Thyroid hormone replacement for subclinical hypothyroidism

H C C E Villar, H Saconato, O Valente, A N Atallah
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007 July 18, (3): CD003419

BACKGROUND: Subclinical hypothyroidism is defined as an elevated serum thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level with normal free thyroid hormones values. The prevalence of subclinical hypothyroidism is 4% to 8% in the general population, and up to 15% to 18% in women who are over 60 years of age. There is considerable controversy regarding the morbidity, the clinical significance of subclinical hypothyroidism and if these patients should be treated.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of thyroid hormone replacement for subclinical hypothyroidism.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE and LILACS. Ongoing trials databases, reference lists and abstracts of congresses were scrutinized as well.

SELECTION CRITERIA: All studies had to be randomised controlled trials comparing thyroid hormone replacement with placebo or no treatment in adults with subclinical hypothyroidism. Minimum duration of follow-up was one month.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. We contacted study authors for missing or additional information.

MAIN RESULTS: Twelve trials of six to 14 months duration involving 350 people were included. Eleven trials investigated levothyroxine replacement with placebo, one study compared levothyroxine replacement with no treatment. We did not identify any trial that assessed (cardiovascular) mortality or morbidity. Seven studies evaluated symptoms, mood and quality of life with no statistically significant improvement. One study showed a statistically significant improvement in cognitive function. Six studies assessed serum lipids, there was a trend for reduction in some parameters following levothyroxine replacement. Some echocardiographic parameters improved after levothyroxine replacement therapy, like myocardial relaxation, as indicated by a significant prolongation of the isovolumic relaxation time as well as diastolic dysfunction. Only four studies reported adverse events with no statistically significant differences between groups.

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: In current RCTs, levothyroxine replacement therapy for subclinical hypothyroidism did not result in improved survival or decreased cardiovascular morbidity. Data on health-related quality of life and symptoms did not demonstrate significant differences between intervention groups. Some evidence indicates that levothyroxine replacement improves some parameters of lipid profiles and left ventricular function.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"