Mildly elevated levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) are not linked to an increased mortality risk in the elderly.
This is the finding of a new study at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, which investigated the effects of TSH levels, which naturally increase during the ageing process.
Dr Anne R Cappola, lead author, commented: "As increasing numbers of people live into their 80s and 90s, it is important to know how to manage their health, including thyroid function.
"Our study shows that a gradual increase in TSH occurs during healthy aging and that mild increases in TSH are not harmful in the old."
This means that reflexively treating slightly elevated TSH in older adults could be an unnecessary activity and a waste of money, time and resources.
Researchers assert that further study is needed to determine at which point rising TSH levels need intervention.
However, elevated TSH levels in the young need to be treated, especially if they occur during pregnancy, as this can increase the risk of complications.
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