Myxedema coma is a rare condition that needs emergency care. It can occur in a person who has untreated, severe hypothyroidism. It usually occurs in older adults who have other illnesses, such as a serious infection or heart attack, along with their hypothyroidism.

These life-threatening symptoms may occur:

  • Mental deterioration such as apathy, confusion, and psychosis
  • Extremely low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Extremely slow heartbeat (fewer than 60 beats a minute)
  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory failure

Death can occur if myxedema coma is not treated. Emergency treatment may include thyroid hormone replacement given in a vein (intravenously) and steroid therapy.

Current as of: November 14, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Matthew I. Kim, MD - Endocrinology