Testosterone: Wonder Drug for the Heart?

Monday, 19 May 2014 04:02 PM

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Testosterone therapy specialists unveiled a new database analysis that found no increased cardiovascular risk from hormone treatments and potential protective benefits for the heart.
 
The study, conducted in response to recent negative reports linking low-T therapy to heart risks for some men, found that men receiving testosterone therapy were seven times less likely to suffer a heart attack and nine times less likely have a stroke than those not taking hormone supplements.
 
Lead researcher Robert Tan, M.D., of the OPAL Medical Clinic in Houston, presented the findings during a meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists in Las Vegas this week, MedPage Today reported.
 
"The study suggests a protective effect of testosterone against [heart attack] and strokes," Dr. Tan said. "Further, there was no evidence of worsening of pre-existing [heart attack] or strokes in patients treated with testosterone."
 
George Grunberger, M.D., vice president of the association, noted the study was retrospective analysis of health statistics and not the gold standard of health research — a randomized controlled clinical trial that compares the experiences of men taking low-T therapy to those not taking supplements. But he said the findings should allay some concerns.
 
"I think it should take out some of the element of fear," said Dr. Grunberger, who was not involved in the study. "The last thing you want is patients who are doing well to stop their treatment because of some headline."
 
Recent studies have raised concerns about the cardiovascular safety of testosterone. One published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who'd undergone testosterone therapy and coronary angiography had a higher risk of cardiovascular complications. Two others, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS One and the British medical journal BMC Medicine, also found links between testosterone and heart problems in some men.
 
The studies prompted the Food and Drug Administration to investigate potential cardiovascular risks of testosterone therapy, which is ongoing.
 
Dr. Tan and colleagues conducted their retrospective analysis in almost 40,000 patients who were seen at 40 treatment centers across the U.S. between 2009 and 2014.
 
They found that of the treated patients, there were four nonfatal heart attacks and two fatal heart attacks during that time period. Forty-six patients had had a heart attack before starting testosterone therapy, and none of these patients had any adverse cardiovascular outcomes after starting treatment, they reported.
 
As for stroke, there were only two cases among treated patients and of the 12 patients who had a stroke before starting testosterone therapy, none had any further adverse events.
The rates of stroke and heart attack were much lower than among men in the general population, they noted.
 
"This study contradicts the two other studies," Dr. Tan said, "instead suggesting a protective effect of testosterone against [heart attacks] and strokes."

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