Hypothyroidism May Be a Culprit Behind Circulation Problems


Hypothyroidism is an increasingly common condition that is characterized by decreased thyroid function. It is more common in women and has a very long list of symptoms. These include fluid retention, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, problems with memory, an inability to lose weight, menstrual problems and skin symptoms such as itchiness. In addition, digestive problems, food intolerances, irritability and low motivation may also be present. But, hypothyroidism also displays many poor circulation symptoms as well, which may link this common condition to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases according to Dr Kaslow.

Many people are plagued with bad circulation. Most often this is due to a lack of physical activity or an occupation that requires long periods of sitting. And, certain health conditions like the rare Buerger’s disease and the more common peripheral neuropathy can also play a role. But, the symptoms of poor circulation can be present in people with decreased thyroid function as well. Some of the signs of bad circulation as encountered by those with hypothyroidism include cold hands and feet, low blood pressure and cholesterol levels that are elevated which can lead to further long term complications of bad circulation such as an increased risk for heart attacks. Similarly to effects encountered by people experiencing symptoms from other poor circulation causes, those with reduced function of the thyroid may also encounter cramping and spasms in the muscles of the lower extremities.

Interestingly enough, it is thought that there may also be a connection between hypothyroidism and Raynaud’s disease, a condition that is characterized by poor blood circulation in the hands. When exposed to cold or during periods of stress, the blood vessels in the hands narrow and this makes it harder for blood to pass through them. Typically, the symptoms of Raynaud’s are mild and rapidly go away shortly after removal of the related trigger. However, a case report from the Helsinki University Center Hospital indicates how the condition may be related to both hypothyroidism and myocardial infarction. A vasospasm is the constricting of a blood vessel that in turn results in a lack of blood flow to a certain area. The care report details a situation involving a patient with hypothyroidism that was unknown alongside a case of Raynaud’s disease. As a result of a vasospasm, a myocardial infarction resulted. This case study suggests that there may be more of a relationship between the common thyroid conditions when other circulatory problems are present.

Because circulatory function can be decreased in people suffering from hypothyroidism, it is important that proactive steps to maintain healthy leg circulation be taken in those suffering from the condition. While medications are often used to improve the function of the thyroid gland, they often are not always effective at fully controlling the resulting symptoms. As such, there are certain things that those with impaired function of the thyroid can do to positively impact leg circulation, with exercise being one of the most important. With healthy amounts of cardiovascular exercise, the muscles of the lower extremities are engaged and can act as a secondary pump for blood that is already facing an uphill battle in order to get back up to the heart. And, those with hypothyroidism can also benefit from dietary changes that can improve blood flow as well. Eating foods that are full of compounds like antioxidants and flavonoids, both thought to help improve circulatory health, can be beneficial. And, there are even herbs like horse chestnut and gingko biloba that can also help boost blood flow. The use of compression garments may be needed particularly if symptoms become bothersome or uncomfortable and massage and devices like leg wraps can also be beneficial for providing soothing relaxation as well as increasing blood flow. But, even people with well managed hypothyroidism, it is a good idea that when circulatory problems are present that a medical evaluation be carried out. This is because while home care methods can be effective at reducing the circulation symptoms that can accompany a thyroid disorder, the same symptoms may also be a sign of serious underlying health conditions. A decrease in leg circulation can be evident of serious health problems like atherosclerosis and dismissing them as simply a side effect of hypothyroidism can delay needed medical care.