...comparison to young subjects
TSH increased with age in the whole group. There was no statistical difference in the analysis of these independent subgroups: 20–49 versus 50–59 years old (p > 0.05), and 60–69 versus 70–79 years old (p > 0.05). Consequently, we achieved different TSH RI for the three major age groups, 20 to 59 years old: 0.4 - 4.3 mU/L, 60 to 79 years old: 0.4 - 5.8 mU/L and 80 years or more: 0.4 - 6.7 mU/L. Conversely, FT4 progressively decreases = significantly with age, but the independent comparison test between the sub-groups showed that after age 60 the same RI was obtained (0.7 - 1.7 ng/dL) although the minimum value was smaller than that defined by manufacturer. In the comparison between TSH data obtained by this study and those defined by the manufacturer (without segmentation by age) 6.5% of subjects between 60 and 79 years and 12.5% with 80 years or more would have a misdiagnosis of elevated TSH.
TSH normal reference range increases with age, justifying the use of different RI in subjects 60 years old and over, while FT4 decreases with age. Using specific-age RI, a significant percentage of elderly will not be misdiagnosed as having subclinical hipothyroidism.