Testosterone is the male hormone produced by the testicles. It's an essential hormone that functions to maintain normal sexual function, energy level and muscle mass in men. Low testosterone levels can lead to many symptoms including but not limited to sexual dysfunction, fatigue, depressed mood, lack of motivation and loss of muscle mass.
Testosterone deficiency has also been linked to the development of certain medical problems including osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, heart disease and prostate cancer. Low levels of testosterone may actually represent an independent risk factor for death!
Recently, a study from the University of Texas raised concerns over testosterone replacement therapy and its effect on the heart. This study was performed in veterans with preexisting heart disease as well as other medical conditions. The researchers found that men taking testosterone were more likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to men not using this treatment.
The testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) market has been growing over recent years due to clever marketing by pharmaceutical companies as well as the positive effects many men will experience on TRT. So, is testosterone safe for your heart, or not?
Most studies to date have suggested that testosterone therapy is healthy for blood vessels and reduces the incidence of heart disease and other vascular events such as stroke. It also can help men lose body fat and build lean muscle mass, which most physicians would consider heart healthy changes.
The VA study certainly raises questions regarding the safety of testosterone replacement therapy in men with preexisting heart disease. Every medical treatment has potential risks and testosterone replacement therapy is no different.
Patients need to weigh the risks against the benefits of any medical treatment under the guidance of their physician before agreeing to therapy.
Posted on Thu, January 16, 2014
by Marc Richman, M.D. filed under