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Serum Thyroid Function, Mortality and Disability in Advanced Old Age: The Newcastle 85+Study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simon PearceORCiD, Dr Salman Razvi, Mohammad Yadegarfar, Dr Carmen Martin-RuizORCiD, Dr Andrew KingstonORCiD, Dr Joanna Collerton, Emeritus Professor Thomas Kirkwood, Emerita Professor Carol Jagger



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Context: Perturbations in thyroid function are common in older individuals but their significance in the very old is not fully understood.Objective: This study sought to determine whether thyroid hormone status and variation of thyroid hormones within the reference range correlated with mortality and disability in a cohort of 85-year-olds.Design: A cohort of 85-year-old individuals were assessed in their own homes (community or institutional care) for health status and thyroid function, and followed for mortality and disability for up to 9 years.Setting and Participants: Six hundred and forty-three 85-year-olds registered with participating general practices in Newcastle and North Tyneside, United Kingdom.Main Outcomes: All-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and disability according to thyroid disease status and baseline thyroid hormone parameters (serum TSH, FT4, FT3, and rT(3)). Models were adjusted for age, sex, education, body mass index, smoking, and disease count.Results: After adjustment for age and sex, all-cause mortality was associated with baseline serum rT(3) and FT3 (both P < .001), but not FT, or TSH. After additional adjustment for potential confounders, only rT(3) remained significantly associated with mortality (P =.001). Baseline serum TSH and rT(3) predicted future disability trajectories in men and women, respectively.Conclusions: Our study is reassuring that individuals age 85 y with both subclinical hypothyroidism and subclinical hyperthyroidism do not have a significantly worse survival over 9 years than their euthyroid peers. However, thyroid function tests did predict disability, with higher serum TSH levels predicting better outcomes. These data strengthen the argument for routine use of age-specific thyroid function reference ranges.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pearce SHS, Razvi S, Yadegarfar ME, Martin-Ruiz C, Kingston A, Collerton J, Visser TJ, Kirkwood TB, Jagger C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism

Year: 2016

Volume: 101

Issue: 11

Pages: 4385-4394

Print publication date: 01/11/2016

Online publication date: 23/08/2016

Acceptance date: 17/08/2016

Date deposited: 13/04/2017

ISSN (print): 0021-972X

ISSN (electronic): 1945-7197

Publisher: Endocrine Society


DOI: 10.1210/jc.2016-1935


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Funder referenceFunder name
Newcastle University
NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Dunhill Medical Trust
Newcastle Hospitals Healthcare Charity
G0500997Medical Research Council