What are the heart risks associated with testosterone therapy?

Answers from Todd B. Nippoldt, M.D.

While previous studies suggested a link between testosterone therapy and an increased risk in heart disease, currently the connection isn’t clear.

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.

However, more recent studies show no increase in cardiovascular disease in men taking testosterone therapy. Some research even shows a lower risk of death in men receiving testosterone therapy compared with those not receiving therapy. A large 2016 study following more than 1,000 men for three years found that testosterone therapy did not increase the risk of cardiovascular events.

More research is needed to determine the safety of using testosterone therapy to treat older men dealing with age-related declines in testosterone. In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a special advisory stating that, despite conflicting results, testosterone labels must alert consumers of a possible increased cardiovascular risk.

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 contributing to the formation of blood clots 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.

March 07, 2017