Thyroid problems and atrial fibrillation

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that lies in front of the windpipe (trachea), just below the voice box (larynx). The thyroid gland uses iodine from food to make two thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

The thyroid gland stores these thyroid hormones and releases them as they are needed. Thyroid hormones regulate the way the body uses energy. A lack of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) or an excess of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism) affects many body systems and can cause a wide range of symptoms, including changes in weight, heartbeat, body temperature, digestion, and muscle function.

An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) may affect how electrical signals are generated and passed on in the heart, increasing the risk of atrial fibrillation.

Last Updated: December 18, 2008

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