Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Widespread prescribing of Levothyroxine for borderline thyroid hormone levels

Date:
October 7, 2013
Source:
American Medical Association (AMA)
Summary:
A study of patients in the United Kingdom suggests widespread prescribing of the medication levothyroxine sodium to boost thyroid function among patients with borderline high levels of the thyroid-stimulating hormone thyrotropin (a sign of low thyroid function), raising the possibility of overtreatment.

A study of patients in the United Kingdom suggests widespread prescribing of the medication levothyroxine sodium to boost thyroid function among patients with borderline high levels of the thyroid-stimulating hormone thyrotropin (a sign of low thyroid function), raising the possibility of overtreatment, according to a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.

Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) is one of the most common chronic conditions in Western populations, with levothyroxine prescriptions having increased in the United States, England and Wales, according to the study background.

Researchers note that while thyroid function testing has increased, likely resulting in detection of more cases, an additional factor contributing to more prescriptions of thyroid medication may be the lowering of the thyrotropin threshold at which levothyroxine treatment is started in patients. If the increase in prescriptions is due to a lower threshold for treatment, then treatment may result in less benefit and more harm. Overtreatment is associated with an increased risk of fractures and atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart beat), according to researchers.

Peter N. Taylor, M.Sc., M.R.C.P., of the Cardiff University School of Medicine, United Kingdom, and colleagues examined trends in thyrotropin levels before and after levothyroxine therapy. Researchers used data from the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink and identified 52,298 patients who received a levothyroxine prescription between 2001 and 2009.

American Thyroid Association guidelines recommend considering levothyroxine therapy at thyrotropin levels of 10 mIU/L or less when there are clear symptoms of hypothyroidism, positive thyroid autoantibodies or evidence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (hardening of the arteries) or heart failure. Treatment of patients with thyrotropin levels at or below 10 mIU/L without symptoms may cause more harm than good and may represent overtreatment.

The study findings indicate that between 2001 and 2009, the median (midpoint) thyrotropin level at the start of levothyroxine treatment declined from 8.7 to 7.9 mIU/L, with an increase in the odds of having levothyroxine therapy start at a thyrotropin level of 10 mIU/L or less.

"In the United Kingdom, 1.6 million individuals are on long-term levothyroxine regimens, most of whom have been prescribed it for primary hypothyroidism. If current practice continues, up to 30 percent of persons receiving levothyroxine therapy may have been prescribed it without an accepted indication and with the potential for net harm if they develop even a low thyrotropin level," the study concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Medical Association (AMA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Peter N. Taylor. Falling Threshold for Treatment of Borderline Elevated Thyrotropin Levels—Balancing Benefits and Risks. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.11312

Cite This Page:

American Medical Association (AMA). "Widespread prescribing of Levothyroxine for borderline thyroid hormone levels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007162057.htm>.
American Medical Association (AMA). (2013, October 7). Widespread prescribing of Levothyroxine for borderline thyroid hormone levels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007162057.htm
American Medical Association (AMA). "Widespread prescribing of Levothyroxine for borderline thyroid hormone levels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131007162057.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) — A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins