Graves’ disease occurs when the body produces too much of the thyroid hormone. This disease is rarely fatal. In fact, most people are not severely sick or incapacitated due to the condition.
Graves’ disease is found predominantly in young to middle-aged women. Many people believe that President Abraham Lincoln had Graves’ disease.
Because the cause of Graves’ disease is unknown, experts do not know of any risk factors for the condition.
Graves’ disease is an autoimmune disease. People with the condition produce antibodies that in turn cause the thyroid gland to produce an excess of the thyroid hormone. Because the thyroid gland controls the body’s metabolism, Graves’ disease can throw the body into turmoil. Metabolism affects the heart rate, the number of calories the body burns while at rest, and the body’s energy level, among other functions.