Asymptomatic hypothyroidism and hypercholesterolaemia

J R Soc Med. 1991 Sep;84(9):527-9.


Hypothyroidism is a cause of secondary hyperlipidaemia. This study investigates the frequency of biochemically diagnosed hypothyroidism and its relationship with plasma cholesterol concentration in apparently healthy people. Thyroid function tests (total T4, TSH, and free T4) were performed on 272 apparently healthy men and women (179 vegetarians, 93 meat eaters) with a plasma cholesterol concentration above 7 mmol/l and on 90 individuals with a plasma cholesterol below 4.1 mmol/l who were matched for age, sex and dietary habits. Six per cent of those with a plasma cholesterol above 7 mmol/l had biochemical evidence of hypothyroidism as defined by a TSH greater than 10 mIU/l (reference range 1-6) and a low free T4 below 10 pmol/l (reference range 10.1-25). Eighty per cent of these people had a high titre of thyroid anti-microsomal antibodies. Of the 90 individuals with a plasma cholesterol level below 4.1 and the 25 randomly selected participants none had biochemical evidence of hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is relatively common in apparently healthy people with a raised plasma cholesterol. It appears no commoner in vegetarians than in meat eaters.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, VLDL / blood
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood
  • Hypercholesterolemia / etiology*
  • Hypothyroidism / blood
  • Hypothyroidism / complications*
  • Hypothyroidism / diagnosis
  • Hypothyroidism / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Random Allocation
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood


  • Antibodies
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Cholesterol, VLDL
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine