Thyroid diseases and cerebrovascular disease

A. Squizzato, V. E. A. Gerdes, D. P. M. Brandjes, H. R. Büller, J. Stam

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Background and Purpose-Acute cerebral ischemia has been described in different diseases of the thyroid gland, and not only as a result of thyrotoxic atrial fibrillation and cardioembolic stroke. The purpose of this review is to summarize the studies on the relationship between thyroid diseases and cerebrovascular diseases, discussing the main findings for overt hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, as well as for subclinical thyroid dysfunction. Summary of Review-In overt hyperthyroidism, cardioembolic stroke is clearly associated to thyrotoxic atrial fibrillation, and in subclinical hyperthyroidism with serum thyroid-stimulating hormone levels <0.1 mU/L, the incidence of atrial fibrillation is increased. Although in vitro and in vivo studies indicate a hypercoagulability state in hyperthyroidism, there is insufficient evidence to prove that this state leads to an increased risk of cardiac emboli. However, the hypothesis that overt hyperthyroidism may cause acute cerebral venous thrombosis is intriguing. Possible associations between hyperthyroidism and Moyamoya or Giant cell arteritis have only been described in case reports. There is enough evidence that overt hypothyroidism is associated with several traditional and newer atherosclerotic risk factors, especially hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hyperhomocysteinemia. For subclinical hypothyroidism, these associations are less certain. Hypothyroidism has been associated with signs of aortic or coronary atherosclerosis, but no case-control or cohort studies have ever investigated hypothyroidism as a possible risk factor for atherothrombotic stroke. Conclusions-Hyperthyroidism is associated with atrial fibrillation and cardioembolic stroke. Hypothyroidism is associated with a worse cardiovascular risk factor profile and leads to progression of atherosclerosis. Associations between hyperthyroidism and acute cerebral venous thrombosis, Moyamoya, and Giant cell arteritis have been suggested, but sound evidence is lacking. Additional studies are needed to clarify these issues
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2302-2310
JournalStroke; a journal of cerebral circulation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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