Mortality after the Treatment of Hyperthyroidism with Radioactive Iodine

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Hyperthyroidism affects many organ systems, but the effects are usually considered reversible. The long-term effects of hyperthyroidism on mortality are not known.


We conducted a population-based study of mortality in a cohort of 7209 subjects with hyperthyroidism who were treated with radioactive iodine in Birmingham, United Kingdom, between 1950 and 1989. The vital status of the subjects was determined on March 1, 1996, and causes of death were ascertained for those who had died. The data on the causes of death were compared with data on age-specific mortality in England and Wales. The standardized mortality ratio was used as a measure of relative risk, and the effect of covariates on mortality was assessed by regression analysis.


During 105,028 person-years of follow-up, 3611 subjects died; the expected number of deaths was 3186 (standardized mortality ratio, 1.1; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.1 to 1.2; P<0.001). The risk was increased for deaths due to thyroid disease (106 excess deaths; standardized mortality ratio, 24.8; 95 percent confidence interval, 20.4 to 29.9), cardiovascular disease (240 excess deaths; standardized mortality ratio, 1.2; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 1.3), and cerebrovascular disease (159 excess deaths; standardized mortality ratio, 1.4; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 1.5), as well as fracture of the femur (26 excess deaths; standardized mortality ratio, 2.9; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.0 to 3.9). The excess mortality was most evident in the first year after radioiodine therapy and declined thereafter.


Among patients with hyperthyroidism treated with radioiodine, mortality from all causes and mortality due to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease and fracture are increased. (N Engl J Med 1998;338:712-8.)

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