Thyroid function tests in patients taking thyroid medication in Germany: Results from the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP)

Anke Hannemann, Nele Friedrich, Robin Haring, Alexander Krebs, Henry Völzke, Dietrich Alte, Matthias Nauck, Thomas Kohlmann, Hans Christof Schober, Wolfgang Hoffmann, Henri Wallaschofski

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Background. Studies from iodine-sufficient areas have shown that a high proportion of patients taking medication for thyroid diseases have thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels outside the reference range. Next to patient compliance, inadequate dosing adjustment resulting in under- and over-treatment of thyroid disease is a major cause of poor therapy outcomes. Using thyroid function tests, we aim to measure the proportions of subjects, who are under- or over-treated with thyroid medication in a previously iodine-deficient area. Findings. Data from 266 subjects participating in the population-based Study of Health in Pomerania (SHIP) were analysed. All subjects were taking thyroid medication. Serum TSH levels were measured using immunochemiluminescent procedures. TSH levels of < 0.27 or > 2.15 mIU/L in subjects younger than 50 years and < 0.19 or > 2.09 mIU/L in subjects 50 years and older, were defined as decreased or elevated, according to the established reference range for the specific study area. Our analysis revealed that 56 of 190 (29.5%) subjects treated with thyroxine had TSH levels outside the reference range (10.0% elevated, 19.5% decreased). Of the 31 subjects taking antithyroid drugs, 12 (38.7%) had TSH levels outside the reference range (9.7% elevated, 29.0% decreased). These proportions were lower in the 45 subjects receiving iodine supplementation (2.2% elevated, 8.9% decreased). Among the 3,974 SHIP participants not taking thyroid medication, TSH levels outside the reference range (2.8% elevated, 5.9% decreased) were less frequent. Conclusion. In concordance with previous studies in iodine-sufficient areas, our results indicate that a considerable number of patients taking thyroid medication are either under- or over-treated. Improved monitoring of these patients' TSH levels, compared to the local reference range, is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article number227
JournalBMC Research Notes
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2010
Externally publishedYes

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