hormone therapy for thyroid disease in seniors
Dr. Jean Chen on Over Treating the Thyroid and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults

The thyroid  is a small gland at the front of your neck that produces hormones which help control several different organ systems. If it’s either underactive (hypothyroidism), or overactive (hyperthyroidism), it could cause serious health issues such as weight changes, fatigue, anxiety/depression, or osteoporosis and may require medication to help better regulate it. 

New research shows though that some hormone medications used to treat thyroid conditions, if administered in excess, may contribute to cognitive disorders in older adults.

This particular study evaluating more than 65,000 patients appeared recently in the JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association and showed that those 65 years and older who received thyroid hormone therapy were at an increased risk for developing dementia and other cognitive issues, especially those who were aggressively dosed. 

Our endocrinology experts at Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology treat many hormonal issues, including those affecting the thyroid. One of our board-certified endocrinology specialists, Dr. Jean Chen, shared her thoughts on this study for an article in Medscape.

The article stressed the importance of being vigilant when dosing hormone therapy for older adults to avoid the cognitive consequences of overtreatment. 

“Taking a cautious approach to prescribing thyroid hormone therapy for older patients is

paramount,” said Dr. Chen. “All medical providers need to be aware that the 65 and older population does not need to be treated as aggressively with their thyroid hormone.” 

“We are finding more and more complications from overtreatment rather than benefit in this (senior) population.”

Dr. Chen also explained that symptoms of hyperthyroidism can often mimic those of another condition, so it is important to obtain a thorough diagnosis from a primary care physician before automatically adopting any hormone therapies. Our endocrinologists frequently work in close collaboration with other care providers to arrive at the most accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to suit your personal needs. 

Thyroid Specialists in Austin

Our team of endocrinology specialists is experienced at diagnosing and treating all issues affecting the thyroid including hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. We provide convenient thyroid ultrasound imaging and biopsy procedures on-site in our clinics and will work with you to formulate the most effective treatment plan possible.

Contact Us Today to Learn More about Managing Your Diabetes and Hormones 

If you’d like to schedule an appointment with Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology and discover how our comprehensive endocrinology services can help you, please contact us at (512) 458-8400 or request an appointment online.  

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check back with us each month as we provide you with helpful wellness and health information.

reduce prediabetes risk
How to Reduce Your Prediabetes Risk

Prediabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be clinically diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes can have serious side effects including an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. 

There is consistent evidence that shows the relationship between blood glucose and cardiovascular risk extends into the prediabetes range. While there is not as much evidence that shows treating mild hyperglycemia (prediabetes) reduces risk for these complications, treating prediabetes can help prevent or delay diabetes onset and preserve insulin production function.

What is the Data?

It is estimated that 37.3 million people (11.3% of the US population) have type 2 diabetes. However, 96 million people over the age of 18 are estimated to have prediabetes (which is 38% of the adult US population) and 26.4 million people with prediabetes are over the age of 65. Overall, approximately 25% will progress to diabetes over the next 3-5 years.  

Recent Research

A recent study indicated that about 5 percent of people diagnosed with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within a year. Early intervention of lifestyle changes – such as diet and exercise – can help reduce your risk. Dr. Lindsay Harrison recently discussed this research with Healthline, saying, “The benefits of intervention persisted over 10 years after the start of the study. There is evidence that reverting to normal glucose even briefly had a long-term reduction of progression to diabetes. Overall, lifestyle intervention is both effective and cost-effective. Although lifestyle changes have not been shown to reduce morbidity or mortality thus far, lifestyle changes are generally beneficial and do not have adverse effects.”

There have been several other studies in the prediabetes population which show that changes in lifestyle slow the progression to diabetes.  For example, the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) found that intensive lifestyle and metformin interventions reduced the cumulative incidence of diabetes by 58 and 31 percent respectively compared to placebo. The study found lifestyle changes to be particularly effective for individuals over age 60, while metformin was more effective in individuals younger than age 60.

Reduce Your Risk

As you can see, lifestyle changes are a big factor in reducing your risk developing type 2 diabetes after being diagnosed with prediabetes. Some steps you can make include:

  • Develop healthy eating habits
  • Incorporate additional exercise into your routine 
  • Quit smoking

If you’re looking to start making some of these lifestyle changes, we can help! Our NextStepMD program is designed to help our patients lose weight, maintain weight loss, and gain better control of their health. Our medically supervised program is for our patients with diabetes, but is also open to patients who have prediabetes or don’t have diabetes at all. Our weight loss strategies include the use of nutrition education, diet and exercise plans as well as FDA-approved weight loss medications if necessary.

If you’d like to learn more about our full range of diabetes services, please call Texas Diabetes and Endocrinology at (512) 458-8400 or request an appointment online.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram and check back with us each month as we provide you helpful wellness and health information.