Barbara Bush Lived a Full Life with Graves’ Disease

In the days leading up to First Lady Barbara Bush’s death, at the age of 92, news reports about her condition often mentioned that she had Graves’ disease.1-3 Those unfamiliar with this thyroid disorder could have been left with the impression that the disorder might have contributed to her death. That is simply not the case. When diagnosed and treated properly, Graves’ disease is not a fatal condition.

Graves' disease was not the cause of Barbara Bush's failing health.

Both Barbara and George HW Bush were diagnosed and treated for Graves’ disease.

The former first lady died from complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure, according to a statement issued by a spokesperson for George HW Bush.

Barbara Bush died with her Graves’ disease, not because of it,”
—Robert Courgi, MD

The Truth About Graves’ Disease: It’s Easily Treated

In Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland becomes overactive, causing symptoms like trembling hands, feelings of anxiety, palpitations, undesirable weight loss, and heat intolerance, explains Elizabeth N. Pearce, MD, MSc, an associate professor of medicine in the section of endocrinology, diabetes, and nutrition at Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, and president-elect of the American Thyroid Association.

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