Cholesterol and thyroid test results: Following... - Thyroid UK

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Cholesterol and thyroid test results


Following on from my post 4 months ago - my GP agreed to raise my thyroxine dose to 100mcg and see what happened to my cholesterol. I feel a little bit better for the raised levothyroxine but still get very tired in the afternoon and evening (basically only have any energy in the morning) and still have a lot of joint pain. Following more recent tests I now have the nurse ringing me presumably to try to get me to take statins which I don't want to do. I have Hashimoto's and am on strict gluten free diet, have also been trying dairy free but not sure if that helps, am trying to reintroduce a little dairy.

My recent results are:

Thyroid 24th June - (GP refused to test T3)

TSH 0.55mul/L [0.35 - 4.94]

Serum free T4 14.7 pool/L [9.0 - 19.0]

Cholesterol 21st July

Serum lipid levels

Serum cholesterol level 7.5 mmol/L [3.1 - 6.5]

Above high reference limit

Serum LDL cholesterol level 4.8 mmol/L

Serum HDL cholesterol level 2.29 mmol/L [1.1 - 1.8]

Above high reference limit

Serum cholesterol/HDL ratio 3.3

Serum triglyceride levels 0.9 mmol/L [0.2 - 2.0]

Non-HDL Cholesterol 5.21 mmol/L

Both were early morning, fasting tests, no levo for previous 24 hrs. I'm gluten free

I've also had a lot of other tests (liver, iron etc) which have all come back normal.

Any advice please, especially in how to argue against taking statins.

Vitamin D and Iron: 21st July

Vitamin D 87 nmol/L [50.0 - 374.0]

Ref range for total 25- Hydroxyvitamin D:

<50 nmol/L Consistent with deficiency

51-74 nmol/L May indicate deficiency, consider treatment if PTH >5.4

>75 nmol/L Adequate level

>374 nmol/L Toxicity possible, consider dose reduction

>750 nmol/L Toxicity likely, dose reduction recommended.

Serum iron tests

Serum iron level 18.8 umol/L [10.0 - 28.0]

UIBC 30 umol/L [12.5 - 55.5]

Suggest repeat if the patient has had contrast medium within the last


Percentage iron saturation 39 % [15.0 - 40.0]

14 Replies

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If you have an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), treatment may be delayed until this problem is treated. This is because having an underactive thyroid can lead to an increased cholesterol level, and treating hypothyroidism may cause your cholesterol level to decrease, without the need for statins. Statins are also more likely to cause muscle damage in people with an underactive thyroid.

Just testing TSH is completely inadequate

Was this test done as early as possible in morning before eating or drinking anything other than water and last dose levothyroxine 24 hours before test?

You need FULL Thyroid testing - TSH, Ft4 and Ft3

Plus vitamin D, folate, ferritin and B12

Have any of these vitamins been tested?

Add results and ranges if you have any

Presumably you have Hashimoto’s

guidelines by weight might help push for dose increase

Even if we don’t start on full replacement dose, most people need to increase dose slowly upwards in 25mcg steps (retesting 6-8 weeks after each increase) until on full replacement dose

NICE guidelines on full replacement dose


Consider starting levothyroxine at a dosage of 1.6 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day (rounded to the nearest 25 micrograms) for adults under 65 with primary hypothyroidism and no history of cardiovascular disease.

Weigh yourself in kilo x 1.6 = likely dose needed.

Some people need more, especially if lactose intolerant

Traditionally we have tended to start patients on a low dose of levothyroxine and titrate it up over a period of months. RCT evidence suggests that for the majority of patients this is not necessary and may waste resources.

For patients aged >60y or with ischaemic heart disease, start levothyroxine at 25–50μg daily and titrate up every 3 to 6 weeks as tolerated.

For ALL other patients start at full replacement dose. For most this will equate to 1.6 μg/kg/day (approximately 100μg for a 60kg woman and 125μg for a 75kg man).

If you are starting treatment for subclinical hypothyroidism, this article advises starting at a dose close to the full treatment dose on the basis that it is difficult to assess symptom response unless a therapeutic dose has been trialled.

A small Dutch double-blind cross-over study (ArchIntMed 2010;170:1996) demonstrated that night time rather than morning dosing improved TSH suppression and free T4 measurements, but made no difference to subjective wellbeing. It is reasonable to take levothyroxine at night rather than in the morning, especially for individuals who do not eat late at night.

BMJ also clear on dose required

Farrugia in reply to SlowDragon

Hi - thanks for replying.

Yes, I have hashimoto's and tests were early morning, fasting, no levo for 24hrs.

They tested Vitamin D and Serum iron which I have posted above. They will never test T3 and I had to fight to get them to test T4 this time, I suppose i will have to do medichecks test.

I weigh 58 kg (was 63kg before going gluten and dairy free at the beginning of May) so going by weight 100mcg Levothyroxine is about right by my calculations.

My cholesterol levels have come down a bit since my levothyroxine was increased to 100mcg on 29th March. Do you know if this is likely to continue to improve or if the improvement is fairly immediate and therefore they won't come down any more?

SlowDragonAdministrator in reply to Farrugia

Suggest you get Medichecks test for full thyroid

When were folate and B12 last tested

What vitamin supplements are you currently taking ?

If you are lactose intolerant you may need further increase in Levo.....are you on lactose free levothyroxine?

Sorry don’t know re may ...retest in 6 months?

Farrugia in reply to SlowDragon

I last had the full Medichecks thyroid ultra vit in Dec 2019 -

Ferritin 52.2 ug/L (13- 150)

Folate - serum 19.58 ug/L (>3.89)

B12 active 84.900 pool/L (>37.5)

Vit D 40.1 mol/L (50 - 175) - below range

I usually take Vitamin D, B 12 ( and selenium except I have run out).

I don't know if I'm lactose intolerant. I went strictly gluten and dairy free at the beginning of May. I think my digestion is much better without gluten (less bloating and cravings for carbs) but I can't decide if the dairy makes any difference. I was strict about dairy for 2 months then started introducing a bit of butter and occasional goat's milk kefir and cheese. I've just looked at my levothyroxine and it does contain lactose so maybe that has negated all my dairy free efforts! My diet is pretty good, I cook from fresh ingredients and avoid sugar which really doesn't do me any good( I feel especially bad with even a glass or two of wine unfortunately!) My joint pain wasn't quite as bad for a while during June but it got bad again at the beginning of July and i can't work out any clear links to diet (I keep a food diary).

I will do another Medichecks test.

SlowDragonAdministrator in reply to Farrugia

Suggest you retest vitamin D at end of August ...if not including in Medichecks

Aiming to improve vitamin D to at least around 80nmol and around 100nmol maybe better

Do you supplement vitamin K2 mk7 and magnesium too?

Vitamin K2 mk7

Importance of vitamin D for fighting Covid

Vitamin D calculator

Ferritin, aiming for 70

So looks at increasing iron rich foods

Eating iron rich foods like liver or liver pate once a week plus other red meat, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate, plus daily orange juice or other vitamin C rich drink can help improve iron absorption

Links about iron and ferritin

This is interesting because I have noticed that many patients with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism, start to feel worse when their ferritin drops below 80 and usually there is hair loss when it drops below 50.

Thyroid disease is as much about optimising vitamins as thyroid hormones

Farrugia in reply to SlowDragon

Thanks - lots of really useful information here. Need to re check my supplements. I take magnesium but not K2 mk7. I love the vitamin D calculator! Interesting about ferritin and hair loss too.

Thank you very much.

SlowDragonAdministrator in reply to Farrugia

Also need ferritin tested....not the same as iron

High cholesterol is linked to low T3. When T3 is low, the body cannot process and eliminate cholesterol correctly. Therefore you cannot know if low T3 is the cause of your high cholesterol without testing the FT3. Of couse, I know that doctors are completely lacking in logic, but I would have thought that even a GP could have worked that one out.

You are right to resist statins. The cholesterol won't hurt you, but the statins more than likely would!

Farrugia in reply to greygoose

The nurse just rang about my cholesterol and she agreed about not taking statins if I have thyroid problem. She said the Dr probably looked at the result and flagged it up without looking at my notes. Great!

greygoose in reply to Farrugia

Really inspires confidence, doesn't it. Not that notes are always much help. I know that some of mine in the past have been complete works of fiction!

Hey Farrugia

I won’t comment on anything else as I see you’ve got loads of helpful information already 😊. But just wanted to say my cholesterol was fairly high pre diagnosis but has come down every time I’ve had a levo increase. So I personally see a massive link between being under medicated and raised cholesterol levels. xx

Farrugia in reply to Cat013

Thanks Cat013 - my cholesterol has come down since my last levo increase but it's still over the NHS guideline level. The nurse rang me after I had posted this yesterday and I explained about the thyroid link and she said under the circumstances she thought it was fine not to take statins. x

Read some of Dr Kendrick’s books/blog; he is totally against statins, as am I. According to studies ‘higher’ cholesterol is linked to longevity. Statins can have nasty side-effects and do not increase life-span.

Can I just say this puts my mind at ease enormously. All the advice you have all given is brilliant and I am going through something very similar at the moment. I am considering some kind of dietary change but I don't know what at the moment as I do love yoghurt and rarely eat bread or cereals. Thank you and here's to avoiding the stations, healing the thyroid and getting healthy.

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