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.
Dec. 22, 2017
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- Maggi M, et al. Testosterone treatment is not associated with increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events: Results from the Registry of Hypogonadism in Men (RHYME). International Journal of Clinical Practice. 2016;70:843.
- FDA drug safety communication: FDA cautions about using testosterone products for low testosterone due to aging; requires labeling change to inform of possible increased risk of heart attack and stroke. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm436280.htm. Accessed Jan. 11, 2017.
- Snyder PJ. Testosterone treatment of male hypogonadism. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 11, 2017.
- Finkle WD, et al. Increased risk of non-fatal myocardial infarction following testosterone therapy prescription in men. PLOS One. 2014;9:1.
- Testosterone products: FDA/CDER statement — Risk of venous blood clots. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm402054.htm. Accessed Jan. 11, 2017.
- Snyder PJ. Overview of testosterone deficiency in men. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 11, 2017.
- Vigen R, et al. Association of testosterone therapy with mortality, myocardial infarction, and stroke in men with low testosterone levels. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2013;310:1829.