Hearts and Minds via Thyroid?

This morning I heard a snippet on the radio about a research paper which has identified an association between the amygdala in the brain and heart disease - specifically noting arterial inflammation.

This evening, seeing mention of Dr Malcolm Kendrick and his currently non-functioning website, I was reminded to look at the story. After all, inflammation is a major part of his theorising.

Brain activity 'key in stress link to heart disease'

12 January 2017

The effect of constant stress on a deep-lying region of the brain explains the increased risk of heart attack, a study in The Lancet suggests.

In a study of 300 people, those with higher activity in the amygdala were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease - and sooner than others.

Stress could be as important a risk factor as smoking and high blood pressure, the US researchers said.

This study, led by a team from Harvard Medical School, points to heightened activity in the amygdala - an area of the brain that processes emotions such as fear and anger - as helping to explain the link.

Heart experts said at-risk patients should be helped to manage stress.

Emotional stress has long been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which affects the heart and blood vessels - but the way this happens has not been properly understood.

Rest of BBC report here:

bbc.co.uk/news/health-38584975

The full paper is, as so often, behind a paywall here:

thelancet.com/journals/lanc...

This triggered a thought about whether thyroid and amygdala have any specific connections, which led me to this paper:

PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26582. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026582. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

Adult-onset hypothyroidism enhances fear memory and upregulates mineralocorticoid and glucocorticoid receptors in the amygdala.

Montero-Pedrazuela A1, Fernández-Lamo I, Alieva M, Pereda-Pérez I, Venero C, Guadaño-Ferraz A.

Author information

1Department of Nervous System and Endocrine Pathophysiology, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas Alberto Sols, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.

Abstract

Hypothyroidism is the most common hormonal disease in adults, which is frequently accompanied by learning and memory impairments and emotional disorders. However, the deleterious effects of thyroid hormones deficiency on emotional memory are poorly understood and often underestimated. To evaluate the consequences of hypothyroidism on emotional learning and memory, we have performed a classical Pavlovian fear conditioning paradigm in euthyroid and adult-thyroidectomized Wistar rats. In this experimental model, learning acquisition was not impaired, fear memory was enhanced, memory extinction was delayed and spontaneous recovery of fear memory was exacerbated in hypothyroid rats. The potentiation of emotional memory under hypothyroidism was associated with an increase of corticosterone release after fear conditioning and with higher expression of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors in the lateral and basolateral nuclei of the amygdala, nuclei that are critically involved in the circuitry of fear memory. Our results demonstrate for the first time that adult-onset hypothyroidism potentiates fear memory and also increases vulnerability to develop emotional memories. Furthermore, our findings suggest that enhanced corticosterone signaling in the amygdala is involved in the pathophysiological mechanisms of fear memory potentiation. Therefore, we recommend evaluating whether inappropriate regulation of fear in patients with post-traumatic stress and other mental disorders is associated with abnormal levels of thyroid hormones, especially those patients refractory to treatment.

PMID: 22039511

PMCID: PMC3200331

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026582

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/220...

Full paper freely available here:

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

Happy reading.

13 Replies

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  • In this experimental model, learning acquisition was not impaired, fear memory was enhanced, memory extinction was delayed and spontaneous recovery of fear memory was exacerbated in hypothyroid rats.

    So, is this saying that any memories that invoke fear can become difficult to overcome or forget in hypothyroid people?

    If that is the case then it would probably add to the burden we suffer as a result of cortisol deficiency or excess, and heightened adrenalin.

  • Quite convinced that everywhere we look we see the screw being turned a bit more.

    The failure to treat early and adequately changes from being a relatively minor issue into something approaching torture when we consider the ever-growing impact it has.

  • And yet, the NHS is making a big push to stop treating what they consider to be Medically Unexplained Symptoms. That covers things like fibromyalgia, IBS, CFS, chronic pain, bad backs, anxiety, depression (to begin with - other things will be added as time goes on), and they are pushing people into the Mental Health field. They will then refuse to look at physical symptoms of that type in a patient again. Since so many people come here with that kind of symptom we can expect even fewer people to get diagnosed properly in future, they'll be diverted to mental health.

    I see this as being a disaster for us, because so many doctors think people with hypothyroidism are mad already and we are diagnosed with so many stupid conditions based on individual symptoms before we ever get a hypothyroidism diagnosis.

    This link is to a thread in an ME/CFS forum which details the plans for "treating" i.e. fobbing off patients in future :

    forums.phoenixrising.me/ind...

    In one of the posts a member says they would rather chew off an arm than see a GP. Even though I don't have ME/CFS I'm close to agreeing with the author on that.

  • Thanks for the link, HB. Just reading my through it now, and I'm reeling. This is a form of abuse, on a grand scale.

  • I agree. The outcome, as far as I can see, is that death rates from treatment (or lack of it) by doctors and psychologists will rise inexorably. If more and more symptoms are classified as mental health problems then more and more physical problems will be missed.

    I haven't been able to work out whether my treatment for chronic pain (the only thing doctors currently treat me for) will be withdrawn if I refuse to take part in any mental health program.

    I'm also unclear what happens if I agree to take part in the treatment but still don't get rid of the chronic pain. Are my meds going to be withdrawn?

  • I think these are questions that need to be put to someone, but I don't know who. The GMC? The royal colleges?

    It strikes me that this approach to 'treatment' could be actionable in court. Has this been through any ethical assessment, for instance? Has NICE been involved? It doesn't appear so.

  • I don't know the answers to your questions. But I agree. I would hope that the NHS would be sued.

    But I did see a comment, probably on the site that link came from, that the NHS is probably hoping that the saving in money by not treating people will be sufficient to pay for any court cases.

    So that's okay then, torturing patients without being financially worse off is absolutely hunky dory.

    The whole issue of treating people on the NHS seems to be going in the same direction as removing benefits from the sick and disabled. With luck people will start committing suicide or just die, and that saves so much money in healthcare, benefits and pensions. It's a win-win!

  • Yes, this is a political and financial decision, not a medical, ethical one.

  • Thank you - very interesting

  • Very sobering. Certainly strikes a chord with me.

  • Yes, very much strikes a chord with me also.

  • I have been through many docs.

    I sat in front of the last one in tears and pleaded for more tests or better meds or anything, please.... even my regular thyroid check??? (150 mcgs levo, havent had it checked in 2 years) 🙍🏻

    He sat up and looked me square in the eye, " thyroid problems are just a case of fiddling around with meds, and your fibro - nothing we can do. " !!!!!!!

    Month later I tried a new doc, had mouth gashes and ulcers and face covered in spots and lesions, I was an absolute mess.

    He did a simple blood test ,

    Turns out my b12 is non existent.

    How easy was that.

    I also have low level inflammation.?????????

    I'm scared- what's that?

  • Taken from labtestsonline.org.uk/

    Inflammation is :

    The response of body tissues to injury such as trauma or infection. Inflammation is a complex process that can be localised or systemic. When localised, it causes pain, heat, swelling and redness of the affected area; when systemic, it may present as a general feeling or malaise with fatigue and fever.

    It is a common finding amongst people on this forum. To minimise it you need to do a lot of self-help. Doctors are unlikely to treat inflammation or go looking for the cause of it, particularly if it is described by them as "low-level".

    The kind of self-help I'm talking about is optimising nutrients such as vitamin B12, folate, ferritin, vitamin D. Optimising thyroid treatment. Doctors don't care whether thyroid levels are optimal, they only care about TSH being in range, which isn't the same thing at all. A lot of people have gut problems, and the gut is probably the commonest site for inflammation to be. Another common site is the lungs.

    If you haven't already done so, you should write a new post of your own asking for help and suggestions and go from there. Improvements in health are possible for most of us.

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