Testosterone therapy harms cardiovascular health, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The randomized clinical trial studying testosterone therapy in men with a high prevalence of cardiovascular diseases was stopped ahead of time because adverse cardiovascular events raised serious concerns about the safety of testosterone therapy.
It is important to keep in mind that this study only included veterans who underwent coronary angiography between 2005 and 2011 and who had a total testosterone level checked. The study excluded patients who had begun testosterone therapy before having coronary angiography. That means all of the patients already had cardiovascular problems before starting testosterone therapy. In this group of men, the use of testosterone therapy increased risk of mortality, myocardial infarction, and ischemic stroke. Further studies need to be done to determine risks for men who don’t have preexisting cardiovascular risks.
According to lead author and internist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Rebecca Vigen, “These findings raise concerns about the potential safety of testosterone therapy. Future studies including randomized controlled trials are needed to properly characterize the potential risks of testosterone therapy in men with comorbidities (other conditions).” Other doctors point out that the study was done on men who already had heart issues.
Perhaps testosterone therapy might increase risk for men who have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. The big unanswered question is how does testosterone therapy affect healthy men?
Rates of testosterone therapy have gone up over the past decade. Between 2000 and 2011, the number of annual testosterone prescriptions increased by more than 5-fold and reached 5.3 million prescriptions. Many men take testosterone for low T or for anti-aging purposes. Others may use it for physical enhancement. Since this is relatively new treatment for men, compared to decades of hormone therapy and related research for women, doctors and patients should approach testosterone therapy cardiovascular risks with some caution.
Doctors and scientists are not yet sure why testosterone can affect the heart. If you are taking testosterone or have been considering it, talk to your doctor. Be extra cautious if you or your family members have a history of cardiovascular problems. There are natural remedies for andropause (male menopause) through diet, exercise, supplements, and stress management. Read more about how to increase testosterone naturally with supplements and by avoiding environmental toxins that may lower your testosterone levels.
In terms of testosterone therapy cardiovascular risks, don’t panic if you take testosterone. Talk to your doctor about your health and how testosterone therapy harms cardiovascular factors. Together you can make decisions about whether you should continue your treatment or look to more natural ways to boost your testosterone levels.
Vigen, Rebecca. Association of testosterone therapy with mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in men with low testosterone Levels. JAMA 2013 Nov 6, 2013; 310(17)