Testosterone Therapy May Not Hurt Your Ticker

Testosterone therapy and heart disease may not be connected

(RxWiki News) Men who need testosterone therapy may be able to breathe a sigh of relief. New evidence suggests that testosterone therapy may not increase the risk of heart problems.

Two new studies looked at this issue. The first was an examination of multiple studies from Regions Hospital in St. Paul, MN. The second was from Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin. In both cases, researchers found that the data did not support a link between testosterone therapy and heart disease.

However, some past studies have found a link. The authors of these studies called for a long-term, large trial to truly understand the issue.

Led by Pawan Patel, MD, an academic physician at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, the first study found that, overall, research did not confirm an increased risk of heart disease for men on testosterone therapy.

The second study, from Wisconsin, was led by Arshad Jahangir, MD, director of the Center for Integrative Research on Cardiovascular Aging at Aurora Health Care.

Dr. Patel said in a press release, "With an aging population and more and more men needing testosterone therapy, it is important to better understand its potential effect on cardiovascular health. Our analysis ... gives hope that we can do more with testosterone therapy."

Dr. Jahangir echoed Dr. Patel's comments.

"The reassurance we get from this analysis in the community setting is that testosterone replacement therapy in patients with low serum levels is not causing any harm, even if it is not providing much cardiovascular benefit [in this patient population]," Dr. Jahangir said in a press release. "In the absence of prospective data, I think studies like ours will help ease anxieties around this treatment and provide some information on which physicians can base their prescribing decisions."

Testosterone therapy was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for men who have low testosterone levels because their testicles can’t produce the hormone. The treatment comes in injections, patches, gels and other forms.

Although testosterone is crucial to healthy male sexual development, the FDA became concerned when testosterone prescriptions increased sharply. The prescription was also being used in much younger men and sometimes without lab testing to confirm low testosterone levels.

As evidence that testosterone might increase the risk of heart disease began to appear, the FDA issued a safety alert regarding that risk. However, the data showed conflicting results, which led to these two new studies.

Dr. Patel and team looked at 29 studies with data from more than 120,000 men. These researchers found that the risk of heart disease did not increase in men on testosterone therapy.

Dr. Jahangir and colleagues collected data on more than 7,200 men with low testosterone levels. They compared men who had received testosterone therapy with those who had not.

Dr. Jahangir’s team found that the risk of heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease was essentially the same in both groups.

Dr. Patel will present his study March 15 at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego. Dr. Jahangir will present his study March 14.

As always, patients should discuss the risks and benefits of testosterone therapy with their doctors.

Each health center funded its own study. No outside funding was received. Information on conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.


Review Date: 
March 5, 2015