Subclinical and overt thyroid dysfunction and risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events: a large population study

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Jul;99(7):2372-82. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-4184. Epub 2014 Mar 21.


Context: Thyroid dysfunction has been associated with both increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, but limited data are available on mild thyroid dysfunction and cause-specific mortality.

Objective: The objective of the study was to examine the risk of all-cause mortality, major adverse cardiovascular events (MACEs), and cause-specific events in subjects with overt and subclinical thyroid dysfunction.

Design: This was a retrospective cohort study.

Setting and participants: Participants in the study were subjects who underwent thyroid blood tests, without prior thyroid disease, consulting their general practitioner in 2000-2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Main outcome measure: All-cause mortality, MACEs, and cause-specific events identified in nationwide registries were measured.

Results: A total of 47 327 (8.4%) deaths occurred among 563 700 included subjects [mean age 48.6 (SD ± 18.2) y; 39% males]. All-cause mortality was increased in overt and subclinical hyperthyroidism [age adjusted incidence rates of 16 and 15 per 1000 person-years, respectively; incidence rate ratios (IRRs) 1.25 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.15-1.36] and 1.23 (95% CI 1.16-1.30)] compared with euthyroid (incidence rate of 12 per 1000 person-years). Risk of MACEs was elevated in overt and subclinical hyperthyroidism [IRRs 1.16 (95% CI 1.05-1.27) and 1.09 (95% CI 1.02-1.16)] driven by heart failure [IRRs 1.14 (95% CI 0.99-1.32) and 1.20 (95% CI 1.10-1.31)]. A reduction of all-cause mortality was observed in subclinical hypothyroidism with TSH of 5-10 mIU/L [IRR 0.92 (95% CI 0.86-0.98)].

Conclusions: Heart failure is the leading cause of an increased cardiovascular mortality in both overt and subclinical hyperthyroidism. Subclinical hypothyroidism with TSH 5-10 mIU/L might be associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asymptomatic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cause of Death*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Thyroid Diseases / complications
  • Thyroid Diseases / epidemiology*