(RxWiki News) For patients with moderate to severe heart failure, testosterone supplements may be beneficial, allowing those with the condition to breathe better and engage in more physical activity.
The review study found that commercially available testosterone supplements received by injection, patch or gel could improve symptoms, though the findings still must be confirmed by additional studies.
"Discuss how to improve heart failure symptoms with your cardiologist."
Dr. Justin A. Ezekowitz, study author and assistant professor and director of the Heart Function Clinic at the University of Alberta in Canada, noted that improved exercise capacity was found among all reviewed studies. As compared to patients who did not take the supplements, he said the difference was "striking."
Researchers reviewed four randomized clinical trials that included 198 heart failure patients with a moderate to severe form of the condition that took testosterone.
Most of the patients were men with an average age of 67. One of the studies included only women, also finding similar improvement in heart failure symptoms when testosterone was taken in lower doses.
They found that patients taking testosterone scored 50 percent better on a six minute walking test as compared to patients who did not take testosterone.
Investigators also noted that in two of the studies, the severity of heart failure as measured by the New York Heart Association classification link system, improved one to two grades in one third of treated patients compared to less than 10 percent in patients that did not take supplements.
Gains were noticed in muscle and skeletal endurance, with that benefit lasting at least one year.
Though the results are positive, Dr. Ezekowitz noted that larger studies and those that review testosterone delivery methods are needed first.
“We don’t want patients and their loved ones rushing to buy testosterone supplements online, or physicians to misinterpret the findings. First the results need to be corroborated in large clinical trials,” he noted.
The study, funded in part by New Investigator Awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions, was recently published in Circulation Heart Failure, an American Heart Association journal.