Testosterone therapy tied to heart attacks, strokes, early death

A word of caution for men with heart problems who take injections of testosterone or use gel containing the hormone!

Testosterone therapy is widely used by men to turn the clock back, improve weakening bone density, muscle mass, and enhance sexual performance.

“T” or testosterone replacement therapy in men with low hormone levels and other health issues may increase their risk of death, heart attack and stroke, a new study finds.

It was noted that men taking testosterone therapy had a 29 percent greater risk of death, heart attack and stroke compared to those not on the hormone replacement.

Senior author of the study, Michael Ho, a cardiologist at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System in Denver stated, “Prior to this study, we didn’t know much about the cardiovascular risk. Men taking testosterone have to ask themselves whether the risks are worth the benefits they may be receiving.”

Data analysis of 8,709 men
Researchers at University of Texas at Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas analyzed records of 8,709 men (average age 60) with low testosterone levels who underwent coronary angiography, a test to determine narrow or blocked arteries, in the Veterans Affairs (VA) system between 2005 and 2011.

Among them, 1,223 started testosterone therapy after the tests (14 percent received testosterone therapy, 63.3 percent used testosterone patches, 35.7 percent injections and 1.1 percent gel).

Observations by researchers
The analysis revealed higher incidence of death, heart attacks and strokes in the testosterone group over a three year study period. It was noted that 26 percent taking the therapy suffered a heart attack, stroke or died compared with 20 percent not taking testosterone. The findings persisted even after taking into account other risk factors that could have impacted the outcomes.

Anne Cappola, MD, ScM, associate professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a news release, “We do not know if this risk extends to men who are taking testosterone for ‘low T syndrome’ or younger men taking it for physical enhancement, as there is a lack of long term safety data of testosterone therapy in men. But the men who were taking testosterone in this study were slightly healthier to begin with, and surprisingly had a higher risk of catastrophic events.”

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).