Thyroid diseases in the elderly

L. Chiovato, S. Mariotti, A. Pinchera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ageing thyroid is associated with a number of morphological and functional changes, such as decreased serum T3 and mean thyroid-stimulating hormone concentrations, that are to some extent independent of intercurrent non-thyroidal illnesses. All thyroid diseases, including clinical and subclinical hypo- and hyperthyroidism, non-toxic nodular goitre and thyroid cancer, are encountered in the elderly, but their prevalence and clinical expression differ from those observed in younger patients. In the elderly, autoimmune hypothyroidism is particularly prevalent, hyperthyroidism is mainly characterized by cardiovascular symptoms and is frequently due to toxic nodular goitres, and differentiated thyroid carcinoma is more aggressive. The interpretation of thyroid function tests is difficult in old individuals, because of age-associated changes in thyroid function and frequent alterations secondary to non-thyroidal illnesses and/or drugs. Treatment of thyroid disease deserves special attention in old patients because of the increased risk of complications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-270
Number of pages20
JournalBailliere's Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Amiodarone
  • Differentiated thyroid carcinoma
  • Elderly patients
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • L-thyroxine
  • Non-thyroidal illness
  • Subclinical hyperthyroidism
  • Subclinical hypothyroidism
  • Toxic nodular goitre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology


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