What are the heart risks associated with testosterone therapy?

Answers from Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.

Recent studies suggest a link between testosterone therapy and an increased risk in heart disease.

For example, a 2014 study reported that testosterone therapy might increase the risk of a heart attack in men age 65 and older, as well as in younger men who have a history of heart disease. A 2013 study found a higher frequency of death and heart problems in men who had coronary artery disease and received testosterone therapy. Also, a 2010 trial of testosterone in older men was stopped early because the men receiving testosterone therapy had a higher frequency of heart problems than did the men receiving the placebo.

However, two recent studies have also reported a lower risk of death in men who were receiving testosterone than in those who were not. Also, a recent analysis of studies published since these concerns were raised didn't find any reason to alter recommendations for testosterone treatment that have been in use since 2010.

As a result, further research is needed to determine the safety of using testosterone therapy to treat older men dealing with age-related declines in testosterone. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the risk of stroke, heart attack and death in men taking FDA-approved testosterone products.

Keep in mind that testosterone therapy carries various other risks, including contributing to sleep apnea, stimulating noncancerous growth of the prostate, enlarging breasts, limiting sperm production, stimulating growth of existing prostate cancer and blood clots forming in the veins. If you wonder whether testosterone therapy might be right for you, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits. If you are taking testosterone, make sure your doctor is monitoring your response to treatment with regular blood tests.

Oct. 29, 2015 See more Expert Answers