The Link Between Heart Palpitations and Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is an endocrine gland located on the front of your neck — it has two connected lobes and is shaped similarly to a butterfly. Among other vitals, you can thank your thyroid gland for regulating your body temperature, heart rate and more. 

As with other hormone imbalances, thyroid issues can cause a wide variety of symptoms. One of those symptoms is heart palpitations, which happen when you are aware of your heartbeat if it becomes fast-paced or irregular. You might feel like your heart skips a beat here and there because of the unusual spacing between beats. 

An occasional heart palpitation might not catch your attention, and the good news is heart palpitations aren’t serious in many cases. Cardiologist Jeffery H. Graf, MD, can explore the possible causes of your heart palpitations, including thyroid disorders, during your next visit to his private practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York. 

You might wonder how an endocrine gland can influence your heart function. If your heart palpitations come from a thyroid hormone imbalance, here’s why. 

The role of thyroid hormones

Thyroid hormones control both the speed and the force of your heartbeat. Typically, if you’re having heart palpitations, this might indicate too high a level of thyroid hormones in your system. 

Excessive thyroid hormones, or hyperthyroidism, can lead to faster and more forceful heartbeats. When your heart beats faster and more forcefully, you might feel this, and this is called palpitations. 

Controlling your heart rate isn’t the only responsibility that thyroid hormones have. Among other responsibilities, the hormones from your thyroid control or influence your:

Clearly, thyroid hormones are pivotal for your well-being. When your thyroid produces too many or too few hormones, you can feel a difference. 

Hyperthyroidism and heart palpitations

Hyperthyroidism affects around 1% of people over age 12 in the United States. Beyond heart palpitations, excessive thyroid hormones can cause:

While evaluating your heart palpitations, Dr. Graf considers any other symptoms like these and performs a physical exam to get to the root of your problem. He may also order a blood test to measure the thyroid hormone levels in your bloodstream and possibly a thyroid ultrasound is used to identify the cause of your hyperthyroidism. 

Managing hyperthyroidism

If you have heart palpitations due to hyperthyroidism, there’s good news: You have options to manage your condition to reduce palpitations and any other symptoms accompanying them. In many cases, treating palpitations, in general, is as simple as weight management, smoking cessation, or cutting down on caffeine. 

In some cases, however, you might need more intensive treatment to improve your thyroid function, such as:

Radioactive iodine

Radioactive iodine comes in capsules or liquid. It slowly destroys cells in your thyroid so they can’t produce as many thyroid hormones. It doesn’t damage any other tissues in your body. 

Medication

Several medications can regulate your thyroid and the heart issues that come with thyroid hormone imbalances. Prescription beta blockers or antithyroid medications that reduce thyroid hormone production can also help and you should closely follow Dr. Graf’s instructions for taking them. 

Rarely is thyroid surgery necessary for hyperthyroidism. If conservative care can’t regulate your thyroid and alleviate palpitations related to thyroid dysfunction, you may need surgery to remove all or most of the thyroid gland.

Persistent heart palpitations can indicate multiple different heart issues that could be linked to an underlying thyroid problem. For a comprehensive evaluation, seek the experienced care of Jeffrey H. Graf, MD, by contacting the office today.

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