Testosterone replacement therapy might reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in older men with both low testosterone and coronary artery disease, a new study finds.
Produced by the testes, the hormone testosterone contributes much to a man’s masculinity. It’s responsible for increased his muscle mass, deeper voice, and facial hair. It’s also important for his sex drive and erections.
As men get older, their testosterone levels naturally drop. The process is gradual, but some men sense the change. They might feel fatigued and moody. Some men start to lose interest in sex.
Testosterone therapy may benefit older men with low testosterone and coronary artery disease. (Click to tweet)
Sometimes, doctors prescribe testosterone for these symptoms. But the practice has been controversial, with some studies showing increased risk of cardiovascular events – stroke, heart attack, and death – in men taking testosterone. Other studies have found no increased risk.
In this study, researchers from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City worked with 755 men who ranged in age from 58 to 78. The men had low testosterone and severe coronary artery disease, a condition caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). When plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, it becomes more difficult for blood to flow to the heart.
Three groups were formed. One group of men received a high dose of testosterone therapy; another was given a medium dose. The third group did not receive any testosterone.
After a year, 64 men in the non-treatment group had had a cardiovascular event, compared to 12 men in the medium-dose testosterone group and nine in the high-dose group.
After three years, cardiovascular events were experienced by 125 men who were not treated with testosterone, 38 men in the medium-dose group, and 22 men in the high-dose group.
Doctors shouldn’t be changing their patients’ treatment plans quite yet, however. The scientists stressed that their study was observational and that more research is needed.
The findings were presented last month in Chicago at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session.
“New Study Finds Testosterone Supplementation Reduces Heart Attack and Stroke Risk in Men with Heart Disease”
(News release. April 3, 2016)
“Testosterone supplement reduces heart attack risk from heart disease”
(April 4, 2016)