Levothyroxine Dosing in Older Adults: Recommendations Derived From The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging

Colleen Gavigan, Enoch J. Abbey, John McGready, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Jennifer S. Mammen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: As thyroid hormone metabolism slows with advancing age, treatment dosing requirements change. Guidelines recommend titration from a low starting dose for older adults with hypothyroidism while providing weight-based estimates for younger populations. However, rapid replacement may be appropriate with acute onset of overt hypothyroidism. Therefore, a weight-based recommendation specific to older adults is needed. Methods: We determined mean levothyroxine dose using actual and ideal body weight (IBW) ratios for the outcome of euthyroid on therapy relative to assay-specific and proposed age-specific ranges for independently living participants aged ≥65 years in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. We examined risk factors to identify those at highest risk of overtreatment using regression analyses adjusted for potential covariables and clustering to account for multiple visits per individual. Results: One hundred eighty-five participants aged ≥65 years were on levothyroxine at 645 eligible visits. At euthyroid visits, participants were on an average dose of 1.09 μg/kg (1.35 μg/kg IBW), with 84% of euthyroid individuals on a dose of <1.6 μg/kg. Average euthyroid dose did not differ by sex using either actual body weight (ABW) or IBW. For obese individuals, mean euthyroid dose was lower if calculated using ABW (0.9 μg/kg vs 1.14 μg/kg; P <.01) but similar if calculated using IBW (1.42 vs 1.32 μg/kg IBW; P =.41) compared with those with a body mass index of <30. Conclusion: Thyroid hormone dose per body weight estimates for replacement in older adults (1.09 μg/kg ABW or 1.35 μg/kg IBW) are one-third lower than current weight-based dose recommendations for younger populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)612-617
Number of pages6
JournalEndocrine Practice
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • dose calculation
  • hypothyroidism
  • levothyroxine
  • older adults
  • thyroid hormone
  • weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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