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The starting dose of levothyroxine in primary hypothyroidism treatment: A prospective, randomized, double-blind trial

By A. (Annemieke) Roos, S.P. (Suzanne) Linn-Rasker, R.T. (Ron) van Domburg, J.P. (Jan) Tijssen and A. (Arie) Berghout


Background: The treatment of hypothyroidism with levothyroxine is effective and simple; however, recommendations for the starting dose vary considerably. To our knowledge, the levothyroxine starting dose has never been studied prospectively. Methods: We conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blind trial that compared a full starting levothyroxine dose of 1.6 μg/kg with a low starting dose of 25 μg (increased every 4 weeks) in patients with newly diagnosed cardiac asymptomatic hypothyroidism. Safety was studied by documenting cardiac symptoms and events, and efficacy was studied by monitoring thyrotropin and free thyroxine levels and by assessing improvement of signs and symptoms and quality of life. Results: Seventy-five consecutive patients were enrolled, of whom 50 underwent randomization. At baseline, the severity of hypothyroidism and age were comparable in the full-dose (n=25) vs the low-dose group (n=25): thyrotropin, 61 vs 48 mIU/L; free thyroxine, 0.56 vs 0.64 ng/dL (7.2 vs 8.2 pmol/L); and age, 47 vs 47 years. No cardiac complaints or events were documented during treatment or at bicycle ergometry at baseline, 12 weeks, or 24 weeks. Euthyroidism was reached in the full-dose vs the low-dose group in 13 vs 1 (4 weeks), 19 vs 3 (8 weeks), 19 vs 9 (12 weeks), 20 vs 14 (16 weeks), 20 vs 18 (20 weeks), and 21 vs 20 (24 weeks) patients (P=.005). However, signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism and quality of life improved at a comparable rate. Conclusion: A full starting dose of levothyroxine in cardiac asymptomatic patients with primary hypothyroidism is safe and may be more convenient and costeffective than a low starting dose regimen

Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1001/archinte.165.15.1714
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