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  • Anonymous
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      Everytime you have your blood taken because of graves, you might want to have a several other serum tests done along with thyroid hormone levels.
      Here’s Why.
      (This is not my opinion, this is the opinion of almost every endo I’ve talked to. Regretfully that has meant my giving 3-4 of those little viles of blood every time!)
      There are several very important things to monitor during the treatment phase of Grave’s because the disease effects so many parts of the body.

      1) Potassium- potassium levels can drop due to diarrhea (however slight), a symptom of hyperthyoidism, and levels can increase due to consipation (however slight), a common symptom of hypothyroidism. What does this mean? Small changes in the potassium concentration outside cells can have substantial effects on the activity of nerves and muscles. This is particularly true of the heart muscle. Low levels of potassium cause increased activity (which can lead to an arrhythmia), whereas high levels cause decreased activity. Either situation can lead to cardiac arrest in some circumstances. (don’t worry)

      2) BUN – This isn’t that important, but it can signal execessive protein breakdown in the body.

      3) LDH – LDH is most often measured to evaluate the presence of tissue damage. The enzyme LDH is in many body tissues, especially the heart, liver, kidney, skeletal muscle, brain blood cells and lungs. Exercising muscles convert (and red blood cells metabolize) glucose to lactate. Lactate (lactic acid) is what contributes to the muscle pain one experiences when working out, but can also occur during hyperhtyroidism. If this level gets too high, it could represent excess muscle damage that may need to be addressed. It is also an important factor in monitoring heart health.

      4) Glucose – Glucose is a major source of energy for most cells of the body. Some cells (for example, brain and red blood cells), are almost totally dependent on blood glucose as a source of energy. The brain, in fact, requires that glucose concentrations in the blood remain within a certain range in order to function normally. Hyperthyroidism can raise the level of glucose in the blood, and this can cause the excitablility in cells, and brain related problems (memory!!!).

      5) HDL cholesterol – this is the good one that promotes a healthy heart by transporting bile to the liver. HDL can be reduced by hyperthyroidism, but sometimes LDL is not. This is a bad combination for the heart.

      6) CPK – “creatine phosphokinase” – CPK is an enzyme found predominantly in the heart, brain, and skeletal muscle. When the total CPK level is substantially elevated, it usually indicates injury or stress to one or more of these areas.

      Reading these, you can see why heart disease can occur from extreme or untreated hyperthyroidism (not to mention the increased thyroid hormones themselves).

      Some of my levels are unusually high, so I have to have them monitored periodically. Most won’t need to worry about these tests, but you might want to have them checked every once in a while just to be sure.

      This may or may not answer the question about the potassium. The doctor may have a another reason for asking for it.

      Good Luck,

      “Sleepless in Kent” (3:38am!)

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