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January 10, 2023 7 min read

Did you know that hypothyroidism can have quite an impact on your heart rate? Low heart rate is one of the lesser-known symptoms of hypothyroidism, but it's important that you recognize the signs, especially if you've just been diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. Below, we'll explore the link between hypothyroidism and low heart rate, why it happens, and what you can do about it.

What is hypothyroidism?

The thyroid gland

The thyroid gland is an incredibly important part of the human body. Located in the neck, it plays a vital role in regulating your metabolism, or how much energy and oxygen your body use by producing and releasing certain hormones. It affects almost every organ in your body, including your heart.

A normal thyroid function releases just enough hormones into your bloodstream as needed to maintain proper balance within your body for normal functioning and health. The most essential hormones produced by the thyroid gland are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). If your thyroid gland produces too much or too little thyroid hormone, your bodily process will not function properly.

The production and release of your thyroid hormone are triggered by thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which is secreted by your pituitary gland. Having too much TSH in your body indicates that your thyroid isn't producing enough thyroid hormone. Having too little TSH, on the other hand, means that you may have hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).

Low thyroid hormone

Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a condition in which your body doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. This means that you won't have enough thyroid hormone in your bloodstream. Insufficient thyroid hormone slows your body process, affecting your entire body. You'll experience symptoms like depression, constipation, weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, and even problems with your heart rate. One of the most common causes of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto's disease, which is an autoimmune thyroid disease that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland.

Who is at risk for thyroid problems?

Thyroid hormone problems can affect anyone, but some individuals are at an increased risk due to certain factors. If you know anyone in your family who has a thyroid disease, it's a good idea to get a thyroid function test and look out for problems in your thyroid gland.

Additionally, women are more likely than men to suffer from thyroid issues. This could be due to hormonal imbalances that become more prominent during pregnancy or menopause. Therefore, women should keep an eye on their health and seek medical assistance if necessary.

Furthermore, those who have an autoimmune disease like celiac disease or type 1 diabetes, as well as those who have received treatment for hyperthyroidism (when there's too much thyroid hormone in the body), are at an increased risk of hypothyroidism. Sometimes, thyroid problems start as subclinical thyroid disease, meaning it's not severe enough to cause definite symptoms before progressing to full-blown thyroid disease.

How does hypothyroidism affect heart rate?

As explained before, the thyroid hormone affects practically every organ in your body, and your heart is one of them. When you don't have enough thyroid hormone in your body, things can start to get a little slow.

Your metabolism starts to slow down, and so does your heart rate. As a result, your heart beats unusually slowly, causing its muscle to pump less vigorously and weakens over time. Your heart muscles don't fully relax after a heartbeat as well, which leads to diastolic dysfunction – a condition in which the heart's pumping chamber stiffens. It can eventually cause heart failure.

What is considered a low hypothyroid heart rate?

When we were a newborn, we had very high resting heart rates, normally between 110 and 160 beats per minute (bpm). As we get older, our hearts tend to slow down, which is why an adult's bpm should typically sit comfortably between 80 - 90 bpm. But if you have certain medical conditions, like hypothyroidism, your heart rate can fall below 60 bpm.

What are the most common thyroid-related heart symptoms?

Cardiac symptoms can occur in everyone who has hypothyroidism. However, it's much more common in those who have underlying heart disease.

Here are some of the most common heart-related symptoms that people with hypothyroidism might experience:

Heart arrhythmias

This is one of the most common types of thyroid-related heart disease symptoms. Arrhythmias occur when the electrical signals that control the rhythm and rate of your heartbeat don't work correctly. This can lead to heart failure and an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation).

Worsening coronary artery disease

Low levels of thyroid hormone can increase your low-density lipoprotein – often called "bad" cholesterol and an inflammatory protein known as C-reactive protein. These can worsen any underlying coronary artery disease (CAD) you might have.

New or worsening heart failure

New or worsening heart failure is one of the more serious cardiac issues associated with hypothyroidism. This issue can occur even if you only have mild heart disease.

Swelling (edema)

Hypothyroidism can worsen your heart failure, which can result in edema. But even when you don't have heart failure, hypothyroidism itself can cause myxedema. This is a type of edema that occurs due to a buildup of abnormal proteins and other compounds in the fluid that surrounds your body's cells.

Shortness of breath (dyspnea)

Shortness of breath, or dyspnea, is often described as labored breathing that can be constant or only occurs during certain activities. But if you have hypothyroidism, you might experience this condition because of skeletal muscle weakness. Dyspnea may also present with chest pain, tightness, fatigue, palpitations, and anxiety. 

High diastolic blood pressure

High diastolic blood pressure, or diastolic hypertension, occurs when the heart's left ventricle contracts more forcefully than normal, causing an increase in both systolic and diastolic pressures. Diastolic hypertension can increase the risk of stroke, arrhythmia, or even congestive heart failure if left untreated. 

People with hypothyroidism may experience diastolic hypertension because low thyroid hormones can stiffen your arteries and blood vessels. Thus, increasing their diastolic blood pressure.

In some cases, your systolic blood pressure might be elevated too.

What are the treatment options for heart problems with hypothyroidism?

There are several options available when it comes to treating cardiovascular disease related to hypothyroidism. The first and most important option is the use of thyroid hormones. Taking the right dosage of thyroid hormones can help regulate your metabolism, keep your heart rate high, and improve your overall cardiac function.

Two of the most common thyroid hormone replacement medications are levothyroxine (the synthetic form of T4) and natural desiccated thyroid. Levothyroxine pills, the generic name for Synthroid and Levoxyl, are commonly prescribed hormone therapy for those suffering from hypothyroidism. While this is an effective way to treat the condition, many patients report greater success when taking NDT.

NDT is derived from dried pig or cow thyroid glands and contains both T3 and T4 hormones, which can help restore balance in the body. It has been used to treat hypothyroidism for centuries. There are many NDT brands out there, but if you're looking to buy desiccated thyroid online, VitaliThy is the best option.

Since there is no cure for hypothyroidism, you might need to take thyroid hormone medications once a day for the rest of your life.

Thyroid and low heart rate: What you need to know

How to help your heart stay healthy even with thyroid disease

In addition to taking medication, you may need to make lifestyle changes to help your heart stay healthy even with hypothyroidism. Here are some ways you can do it:

1. Pay attention to what you eat

Eating heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular conditions associated with thyroid disease. Additionally, opting for low-fat dairy products and lean proteins will help keep your cholesterol levels in check. You should also keep your dietary sodium intake low.

2. Get regular blood pressure and cholesterol checks

When it comes to hypothyroidism, monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol levels is incredibly important. Doing so will ensure that any signs of a problem can be caught early on and treated accordingly. Keeping an eye on these two key values can help you better manage the effects of hypothyroidism and live a healthy life.

3. Quit smoking

If you have hypothyroidism and want to keep your heart healthy, quitting smoking can be your best bet. Smoking increases the risk of developing CAD, which can be worsened by hypothyroidism. Quitting smoking not only has immediate health benefits but also lowers your risk for CAD over time.

4. Exercise regularly

Exercising regularly is a great way to stay healthy, and that's especially true if you have hypothyroidism. Not only can exercise help keep your metabolism and energy levels in check, but it can also help you strengthen your heart health. Even moderate physical activity like walking or swimming for just 30 minutes a couple times a week can do wonders for your cardiovascular system.


The heart is one of the organs affected by your thyroid hormones. When the thyroid doesn't produce enough of these hormones, it can cause your heart to beat unusually slowly. Over time, this can eventually lead to serious issues like heart failure.

Low heart rate due to hypothyroidism can be a difficult symptom to manage, but thankfully, there are ways to treat it. Taking thyroid hormone replacement medications, like natural desiccated thyroid (NDT), is one of the most effective treatments available - and best of all, it's completely natural. NDT supplies the body with both T4 and T3 hormones, which help regulate metabolism and keep your heart rate at healthy levels. One NDT brand you may want to consider trying is VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online. It contains Thyroid (USP), which means it will effectively ease your symptoms.

In addition to medication, lifestyle adjustments can also help keep your symptoms in check and protect your ticker. With proper treatment and care for both conditions, you can live a long and healthy life.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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