Hyperthyroidism can cause a rapid heartbeat, irregular heart rhythms, and palpitations. This can result in chest discomfort. Untreated hypothyroidism can also cause complications involving chest pain.

These include blood clots, stroke, and heart failure.

If a person experiences chest pain, also called angina, they should consult a doctor. It can be a sign of other serious conditions, such as coronary artery disease or a heart attack.

Chest pain can also result from benign causes, such as muscle strain or heartburn.

This article discusses hyperthyroidism and chest pain, complications, other causes of chest pain, and more.

A woman with hyperthyroidism and chest pain.Share on Pinterest
Aks Huckleberry/500px/Getty Images

Hyperthyroidism may not cause chest pain directly, but some of its possible complications can.

Too much thyroid hormone in the body can cause the heart to beat faster and harder than it would usually. It may also cause irregular heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation or palpitations.

These can lead to chest discomfort but may not directly cause chest pain.

However, if a person does not receive treatment for irregular heart rhythms, they can cause blood clots, stroke, and heart failure. Some of these conditions may result in chest pain.

Hyperthyroidism can also cause high blood pressure and clogged arteries. The combination of a fast heartbeat and high blood pressure could lead to chest pain.

If a person experiences chest pain, they should contact a doctor. It could be a sign of a serious condition.

Excess thyroid hormones in the body can cause nearly every bodily system to “speed up,” including the cardiovascular system.

The result is irregular heart rhythms such as tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, and palpitations. Untreated, these can cause:

  • blood clots
  • stroke
  • heart failure

Hyperthyroidism can also increase blood pressure by increasing the force of the heart’s contractions. This drives up the systolic pressure — shown as the first or top number of a blood pressure reading.

Hyperthyroidism can also cause clogged arteries. This occurs when the arteries cannot pass through the flow of blood that the heart muscle needs. The combination of high blood pressure and clogged arteries can result in chest pain.

Researchers associate other conditions with hyperthyroidism. Some associated conditions that can cause chest pain include:

Hyperthyroidism can cause an irregular heartbeat, which in turn can lead to serious issues, including blood clots and stroke.

Additionally, hyperthyroidism can cause the heart to pump harder, causing it to become overworked. When the heart is in this condition, it cannot pump the blood required to meet the body’s needs. This is known as heart failure.

Hyperthyroidism can also lead to high blood pressure, which can place additional strain on the heart.

Other heart complications hyperthyroidism can cause include:

  • dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart’s chamber walls become thin
  • ventricular dilation, where the left ventricle enlarges
  • pulmonary artery hypertension — high arterial pressure of the arteries that carry blood away from the heart

Treating hyperthyroidism with medications can allow the heart to recover from any hyperthyroidism-related issues.

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States. Knowing when to seek help in the case of chest discomfort may be the key to saving a life.

If a person experiences chest pain or difficulty breathing, they should contact emergency services to evaluate the cause of the symptoms. It could be a sign of a heart attack.

Is it a heart attack?

Heart attacks occur when there is a lack of blood supply to the heart. Symptoms include:

  • chest pain, pressure, or tightness
  • pain that may spread to arms, neck, jaw, or back
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sweaty or clammy skin
  • feeling of heartburn or indigestion
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing or wheezing
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack

If someone has these symptoms:

  1. Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
  2. Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.

If a person stops breathing before emergency services arrive, perform manual chest compressions:

  1. Lock fingers together and place the base of hands in the center of the chest.
  2. Position shoulders over hands and lock elbows.
  3. Press hard and fast, at a rate of 100–120 compressions per minute, to a depth of 2 inches.
  4. Continue these movements until the person starts to breathe or move.
  5. If needed, swap over with someone else without pausing compressions.

Use an automatic external defibrillator (AED) available in many public places:

  1. An AED provides a shock that may restart the heart.
  2. Follow the instructions on the defibrillator or listen to the guided instructions.

About 80% of people who visit a doctor for chest pain are experiencing symptoms caused by something other than the heart.

Sometimes the pain or discomfort will subside on its own, but sometimes it is the result of another condition that requires treatment.

Other common causes of chest pain can include:

Medical personnel will evaluate the individuals’ symptoms and risk of heart disease to determine the best course of action regarding testing for heart issues.

A person may alleviate chest pain by treating the underlying hyperthyroidism.

Professionals will use medication to treat hyperthyroidism. This may include antithyroid medication that prompts the thyroid to produce less thyroid hormone, or beta-blockers, that treat symptoms like heart arrhythmias and nervousness.

Radioiodine therapy is the next step if antithyroid medications prove ineffective. This involves taking radioactive iodine by mouth, which kills thyroid gland cells that produce hormones. This treatment can result in hypothyroidism, which is easier to treat.

In some cases, surgical removal of all or part of the thyroid is the best course of action. In this case, the individual will take thyroid medications for the rest of their life.

Individuals with hyperthyroidism should not ingest too much iodine. Avoid certain foods high in iodine, including:

  • soy and dairy products
  • iodized salt
  • vitamins or supplements containing iodine
  • egg yolks, whole eggs, and foods with whole eggs

Doctors can treat hyperthyroidism and its associated chest discomfort with medication or surgery.

However, if a person does not receive treatment for hyperthyroidism, it can result in potentially fatal complications such as stroke and heart failure.

If a doctor catches heart problems early and treats the underlying hyperthyroidism, the heart can repair the damage and recover.

Beginning treatment early on is the best way to prevent heart issues that develop from hyperthyroidism.

This section answers common questions about hyperthyroidism and chest pain.

What are the cardiac symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism can cause a few different cardiac symptoms. These include:

  • heart palpitations, or the feeling of skipped beats
  • a fast heart rate
  • atrial fibrillation, which may feel like a rapid, fluttering heartbeat

Can thyroid cause chest pain and shortness of breath?

Hyperthyroidism can cause atrial fibrillation, which can sometimes bring on symptoms, including shortness of breath and fluttering in the chest.

However, pain or pressure in the chest is not a direct symptom of a hyperthyroid condition. Individuals experiencing chest pain should contact medical emergency services.

What pain does hyperthyroidism cause?

Pain is not a typical symptom of hyperthyroidism. The condition can cause muscle weakness, fatigue, tremors, and heart palpitations.

Heart palpitations can be alarming and uncomfortable, but they are not generally painful.

If a person with hyperthyroidism experiences chest pain, it could be due to a complication resulting from the condition. They should contact emergency services as soon as possible, as it could be a sign of a heart attack.

Hyperthyroidism can cause chest discomfort, but it does not directly cause chest pain. A person with hyperthyroidism may experience chest pain from associated complications such as heart failure.

Cardiac symptoms or hyperthyroidism may include heart palpitations or irregular heart rhythms. However, if a person does not receive treatment following heart irregularities, they can result in blood clots, stroke, heart damage, and heart failure.

Treating hyperthyroidism with medication or surgery will prevent heart complications and associated chest pain.