Keith Forwith

Innovative Thyroid Surgeon

Graves’ Disease

Complications of Graves’ Disease

There are many complications that can occur from Graves’ disease aside from the long list of troublesome symptoms.  Graves’ disease is just not healthy for your body and the longer Grave’s disease continues the more complications can occur.  One of the most concerning risk factors in ongoing Graves disease is the development of atrial fibrillation.  Atrial fibrillation is one of the more common irregular heart rhythms and puts the patient at risk for stroke.  In addition, atrial fibrillation also causes fatigue, muscle weakness, and headache, amongst a whole other host of symptoms.  Long-term Graves’ disease also puts people at risk for osteoporosis or osteopenia.  Osteoporosis is weakening of the bones which puts the bones at risk for fracture, even with routine use.  A milder version of osteoporosis called osteopenia can also be a consequence of Graves’ disease.

Graves Disease

About 40% of Graves patients will suffer from eye changes, called orbitopathy.  You may be familiar with the bulging eyes in celebrities such as Martin Feldman.  The bulging eyes from Graves’ disease get worse as Graves’ disease progresses.  Treating Grave’s disease surgically can halt the progression of orbitopathy and in many cases reverse the unwanted effects.  Other complications of Graves disease are embolic events.  These would be blood clots that can end up with shortness of breath or stroke.  Graves’ disease has been known to even cause cardiovascular collapse and death in the most severe cases.  Insulin resistance is noted to be worsened with Graves’ disease.  Vitiligo, which is the skin disease that Michael Jackson had, is a common complication of Graves’ disease.  Finally, Graves’ disease patients usually suffer from infertility.  It is very difficult to get pregnant when the thyroid is not working properly.

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