Study Raises Questions About Testosterone Therapy
But it doesn't prove heart harms from the popular supplements
By Randy Dotinga
TUESDAY, Nov. 5 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that men who take testosterone supplements after undergoing a minor cardiac procedure are more likely to suffer strokes, heart attacks or die.
But it's not clear if there's truly an extra risk for these men. And urologists aren't calling for caution beyond the usual warnings about potential overuse of testosterone supplements.
"The investigators simply do not know all of the potential differences between the men who were treated with testosterone and those who were not," said Dr. Bradley Anawalt, an endocrinologist and chief of medicine service at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. He was not involved with the study.
VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System cardiologist Dr. P. Michael Ho, a study co-author, acknowledged that the results don't confirm that testosterone supplements are especially risky for men with suspected heart problems. However, "this hopefully provides information that doctors can use when they discuss with their patients about whether to start or continue testosterone therapy," he noted.
Testosterone therapy has become a hot topic in doctor's offices in recent years as late-night TV ads warn male viewers that "low T" could explain fatigue and low libidos. A study earlier this year found that the use of testosterone therapy by U.S. men aged 40 and up tripled between 2001 and 2011.
Some urologists and endocrinologists warn that doctors are overprescribing the supplements, which can cost thousands of dollars a year and are linked to side effects such as blood clots, male breast growth and infertility.
In the new study, researchers looked at the medical records of more than 8,700 men in the United States who underwent angiographs, a procedure that uses scans to examine blood flow in the body. Angiographs are different from angiograms, in which doctors send catheters up into an artery to determine whether blood vessels are clogged.
All of the men in the study had testosterone levels that were considered to be on the low side; on average, the men were in their early 60s. A total of 1,223 of the men used testosterone therapy after their angiographs.