By Josh Redd, DC on March 10, 2018
Sometimes autoimmune disease can attack the heart tissue and cause heart disease. These people may not have the usual risks of high cholesterol or high blood pressure. However, people with Hashimoto's low thyroid should pay attention as having one autoimmune disease raises the risk of others, including autoimmunity to the heart. If you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid, it’s important to use functional medicine to manage it so you don’t raise the risk of autoimmunity to the heart.
Autoimmunity is a disorder in which the immune system attacks and destroys body tissue. It is one of the most common diseases today and a leading cause of death and disability. It can affect any part of the body. Common autoimmune disease include Hashimoto’s low thyroid, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.
In autoimmune disease, the disorder lies not in the tissue being attacked but in an imbalanced immune system.
Autoimmune disease in the heart
A blood serum antibody panel
can check for antibodies to myocardial peptide or alpha-myosin to see if you have heart autoimmunity. If the condition is advanced, your doctor may diagnose you with myocarditis
(heart inflammation) or cardiomyopathy
Autoimmunity is usually progressive and in its early stages may not express signs or symptoms. However, testing may still show positive antibodies long before symptoms arise.
Symptoms of autoimmune heart disease to watch out for include shortness of breath, chest pain, decreased ability to exercise, fluid retention, tiring easily, and an irregular heartbeat.
Other autoimmune diseases that raise heart disease risk
Failing to manage autoimmune disease significantly raises heart disease risk. For instance, people with lupus
are up to eight times more likely to develop heart disease, making it the leading cause of death in patients with lupus.
The disease most commonly inflames the pericardium, the sac that surrounds the heart.
Additionally, Sjögren’s syndrome and psoriasis more than double heart attack risk.
Chronic inflammation and steroid use are other factors related to autoimmunity that raise heart disease risk.
If you do not intervene to manage cardiovascular autoimmune disease, the result can be inflammation, scarring, and, in rare cases, sudden death. The lungs, liver, and other organs may be affected.
Doctors do not screen for autoimmunity unless symptoms are severe. However, you can identify an autoimmune reaction with a blood serum antibody panel
that screens for multiple autoimmunities, including Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
This panel screens for immune antibodies myocardial (a protein the heart releases in response to stress) or alpha-myosin (cardiac tissue). Positive results indicate the immune system is attacking heart tissue. A more advanced condition may include a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle.
Heart autoimmunity and Hashimoto’s low thyroid
You can use functional medicine to slow or halt the progression of Hashimoto’s low thyroid through proven diet, lifestyle, and nutritional therapy strategies. You should also regularly monitor your heart health.
Gluten linked with heart autoimmunity
Gluten intolerance and celiac disease
are linked with cardiomyopathy in studies. Some people are able to improve the condition, sometimes profoundly, with a gluten-free diet. Screen for gluten sensitivity with advanced testing
. Studies also link gluten sensitivity with Hashimoto’s low thyroid, so it’s important to avoid gluten when you have thyroid autoimmunity.
Ask about my office about functional medicine strategies to manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid and heart autoimmunity.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto's Low Thyroid Disease
, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto's Low Thyroid Disease
, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center
with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto's disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto's, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here