Men's Health

Testosterone Tx Ups Heart Attack Risk at Any Age

Previous studies have shown that testosterone therapy raises the risk of heart attacks in men over 65 but new research has found an increased risk of cardiovascular events even when men using the therapy are under 65. Yet as a result of a ubiquitous advertising campaign for testosterone gel and patches, sales of Androgel exceeded those for Viagra in 2013. The therapy, which is aimed at correcting “Low T” and the resulting lost sex drive, can up a man’s chances of having a heart attack at any age, according to research done at the University of California-Los Angeles, the National Institutes of Health, and Consolidated Research Inc. The results were published in the January 29th online edition of the journal PLoS ONE.

The team found a twofold increase in the risk of a heart attack shortly after beginning testosterone therapy among men under 65 who have a history of heart disease. Not only that, but the research confirmed earlier studies that found a twofold increase in heart attack risk shortly after treatment began in men older than 65.

A release from UCLA notes that the research was prompted by three small, earlier studies that raised concerns about possible adverse cardiovascular outcomes associated with testosterone therapy. These included a randomized clinical trial of men older than 65, which was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and was stopped in 2010 due to a variety of cardiovascular events.

The release quotes senior author Sander Greenland as saying, "We decided to investigate cardiovascular risks of this therapy in a large health care database since these previous studies were modest in size and only focused on men 65 and older. Our study allowed us to examine cardiovascular risk in men under the age of 65 and to replicate the findings in men over 65."

Greenland and his colleagues used data from Truven Health Analytics, which aggregates information on patient care. They examined the health care records of 55,593 men who had been prescribed testosterone therapy — 48,539 under the age of 65 and 7,054 who were 65 or older.  

"The extensive and rapidly increasing use of testosterone treatment and the evidence of risk of heart attack underscore the urgency of further large studies of the risks and the benefits of this treatment," Greenland said. "Patients and their physicians should discuss the risk of heart attacks when considering testosterone therapy."


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