Two new studies have concluded that testosterone therapy for men does not increase risk for heart attack or cardiovascular events.
The first study was conducted by researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch. They wanted to know whether there was a link between testosterone therapy and heart attack. To do this, they analyzed the medical records of 25,420 men who were Medicare beneficiaries age 66 or older. In this group, 6,355 men had had injections of testosterone. The remaining 19,065 did not.
When they compared the two groups of men, they found no connection between testosterone use and heart attack risk. They also considered men on testosterone who were at the highest risk for heart attacks in general. In these men, risk decreased “modestly.”
“This is a rigorous analysis of a large number of patients,” said Dr. Jacques Baillargeon, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “Our findings did not show an increased risk of heart attack associated with testosterone use in older men. However, large–scale, randomized clinical trials will provide more definitive evidence regarding these risks in the coming years.”
For the second study, a team of Italian researchers from the University of Florence reviewed 75 studies on testosterone and cardiovascular risk. Combined, the studies included data from 3,016 patients who took testosterone and 2,448 patients who did not. The patients’ mean age was about 60 years. Based on their review, the researchers concluded that there was no increase in cardiovascular risk for men taking testosterone, as long as it was taken properly.
The researchers noted that testosterone replacement therapy is typically intended for men with hypogonadism, a condition in which a man’s body does not make enough testosterone. But it remains unclear whether this therapy is appropriate for men whose testosterone levels decline in the natural course of aging.
These two studies come at a time when the relationship between testosterone and heart problems is a controversial topic. Testosterone prescriptions in the United States have increased dramatically over the past few years. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of patients receiving testosterone prescriptions rose from 1.3 to 2.3 million between 2010 and 2013. Past research on testosterone therapy and cardiovascular risk has yielded conflicting results. Some studies have shown an association; others have not.
This study bodes well for men who are considering testosterone therapy, especially those with erectile function issues or other sexual conditions. Of course, men who are on testosterone therapy – or who are considering it – are advised to discuss any concerns with their doctors.