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Rigshospitalet - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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Radioiodine therapy increases the risk of cerebrovascular events in hyperthyroid and euthyroid patients

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Hyperthyroid patients treated with radioiodine have increased morbidity and mortality from cerebrovascular events. This risk has until now has been attributed to the hyperthyroidism. However, radioiodine therapy of benign thyroid diseases exposes the carotid arteries to radiation and is capable of inducing atherosclerosis. The objective of the study was to elucidate whether ionizing radiation from radioiodine might contribute to cerebrovascular morbidity.

METHODS: In a retrospective register cohort study, 4000 hyperthyroid and 1022 euthyroid goitre patients treated with radioiodine between 1975 and 2008 were matched 1:4 on age and sex with random controls. The cohort was followed from the date of treatment until hospitalization due to cerebrovascular event, death, 20 years of follow-up or March 2013. Data were analyzed in competing risk models adjusting for age, sex, Charlson's comorbidity score, atrial fibrillation and previous cerebrovascular events.

RESULTS: Mean follow-up time was 11.5 years, mean age 61 years, with a total number of 3228 events. Comparing all radioiodine-treated patients with controls, the fully adjusted model showed increased risk of cerebrovascular events among all treated patients, hazard ratio (HR) 1.18 (95% CI 1.09-1.29). The risk was increased among hyperthyroid (HR 1.17; 95% CI 1.07-1.28) as well as euthyroid patients (HR 1.21; 95% CI 1.02-1.44).

CONCLUSIONS: We report an increased risk of cerebrovascular events in hyperthyroid as well as euthyroid patients treated with radioiodine for benign thyroid disorders. That these patient groups have similar risks suggests the possibility that radiation from radioiodine contributes to cerebrovascular morbidity via acceleration or initiation of atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean journal of endocrinology / European Federation of Endocrine Societies
Volume172
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)771-8
Number of pages8
ISSN0804-4643
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

ID: 45416068