Does Hypothyroidism Cause High Cholesterol?

  • Medical Author:
    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C)

    Ruchi Mathur, MD, FRCP(C) is an Attending Physician with the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Associate Director of Clinical Research, Recruitment and Phenotyping with the Center for Androgen Related Disorders, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Ask the experts

I am taking levothyroxine (Synthroid) for hypothyroidism. I also have high cholesterol. Will this medication and the regulation of my thyroid lower my cholesterol?

Doctor's response

Hypothyroidism is associated with unhealthy lipid levels. (Lipids are fat molecules, such as triglycerides and cholesterol.) Specifically, people with hypothyroidism and even subclinical (without symptoms) hypothyroidism are at higher risk for high total and LDL (the so-called "bad") cholesterol, triglycerides, and other lipid levels associated with heart disease. In fact, one study in 2000 indicated that hypothyroidism is second only to poor dietary habits as a cause of high, unhealthy cholesterol levels. Treatment of hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone replacement (such as levothyroxine sodium [Synthroid or Levoxyl]) can have a positive impact on cholesterol levels.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Clinical manifestations of hypothyroidism"

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Last Editorial Review: 8/7/2017