Doctor Says Bernie Sanders in Good Health, Treated for Hypothyroidism

Bernie Sanders, hypothyroid, thyroid condition
Sen. Bernie Sanders' medical records show that he is being treated for hypothyroidism.. Joe Raedle/Getty Images News

On January 28, 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders released a letter from his physician, reporting that Senator Sanders is in "overall very good health," and is being treated for hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid is underactive. CNN was first to report this news.

The letter was written by Brian Monahan, MD, MACP, the attending physician of the U.S. Congress, and Senator Sanders' doctor for 26 years.

In the letter, Dr. Monahan wrote that Senator Sanders has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and that his current medications include daily levothyroxine.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland -- the master gland that controls metabolism, and delivery of oxygen and energy to cells, tissues and organs -- is underactive. When there is insufficient thyroid hormone, the symptoms can include fatigue, weight gain, mood changes, and other symptoms of a slowed physiology.

How is Hypothyroidism Treated?

The conventional treatment for hypothyroidism is thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which involves taking prescribed thyroid hormone medication daily to replace missing thyroid hormone and ensure normal, functional levels of this key hormone.

According to the medical report, Senator Sanders is receiving the most common treatment typically prescribed for hypothyroidism, levothyroxine, a synthetic form of the T4 hormone.

Some commonly known brand names of levothyroxine include Synthroid and Levoxyl. Levothyroxine is the preferred treatment for hypothyroidism, according to the 2014 Hypothyroidism Guidelines released by the American Thyroid Association.

Hypothyroidism is Common

Hypothyroidism is a common condition, and affects an estimated 30 million Americans.

Many of them, however, are undiagnosed and untreated, according to experts.

Senator Sanders announcement puts him on a long list of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, and politicians -- including former President George Bush, and former first lady Barbara Bush, and Tipper Gore, ex-wife of former Vice President Al Gore.

Sanders' Opponent Secretary Hillary Clinton Also Being Treated for Hypothyroidism

Senator Sanders is not the first politician in the current presidential race who suffers from a thyroid condition. His opponent for the Democratic nomination -- former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- released her medical records in July of 2015. According to her records, Secretary Clinton has also been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Unlike Senator Sanders, however, Secretary Clinton is being treated with a different prescription medication, Armour Thyroid, a natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) drug.

Senator Sanders' treatment, levothyroxine, is a synthetic form of one thyroid hormone, thyroxine - known as T4.

The medication prescribed to Secretary Clinton- Armour Thyroid -- is a brand name NDT, derived from the thyroid glands of pigs, and includes natural forms of the two key thyroid hormones, T4, and triiodothyronine, T3.  

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