Hypothyroidism and Myxedema Coma Medication

Updated: Dec 11, 2015
  • Author: Erik D Schraga, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Medication

Medication Summary

Initiate thyroid hormone replacement as the mainstay therapy for patients with myxedema coma. Patients may remain refractory to other treatment and supportive therapies until thyroid hormone replacement takes effect. Infusing thyroid hormone in the euthyroid patient is unlikely to result in significant morbidity except in patients with ischemic heart disease. Hormonal therapy should be instituted early in patients with a high clinical suspicion of myxedema coma prior to laboratory confirmation.

Monitor the patient's heart during hormone treatment, decreasing or discontinuing the dosage with any evidence of ischemia or dysrhythmia.

The magnitude of hypothyroidism dictates dose and route. Mild cases may be treated with gradual oral replacement, but patients with myxedema coma usually require large doses of IV replacement. General guidelines suggest administration of intravenous levothyroxine at a dose of 500-800 mcg. Alternatively, intravenous liothyronine can be given at a dose of 25 mcg.

Administer antibiotics if infection is suspected to be a precipitating event.

Physicians often recommend glucocorticoid replacement therapy because adrenal insufficiency may be concomitant (especially in patients with secondary hypothyroidism).

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Thyroid products

Class Summary

These agents are used for the replacement of thyroid hormone.

Liothyronine (Triostat, Cytomel)

Liothyronine is a synthetic form of natural thyroid hormone (T3) converted from thyroxine (T4); its short duration of activity allows quick dose adjustments in the event of overdosage.

Levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levothroid, Levoxyl)

Levothyroxine is also known as T4; many physicians prefer the more gradual onset of action of this form of thyroid hormone.

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Corticosteroids

Class Summary

These agents are used for prevention and/or treatment of adrenal insufficiency.

Hydrocortisone (Solu-Cortef)

Hydrocortisone is the drug of choice, owing to its mineralocorticoid activity and glucocorticoid effects.

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