Testosterone Therapy: What Are the Risks?
Stronger bones and muscles. More energy. Better sexual health. Testosterone therapy promises all this and more to men with low hormone levels.
But now, new research has raised concerns about the risk for heart attacks, strokes and death in some men who use testosterone replacement therapy. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is evaluating this research and other available data and will communicate their final conclusions and recommendations when the evaluation is complete..
Each year, doctors write more than 5.3 million prescriptions for testosterone creams, patches, and gels. Although testosterone levels naturally decline with age, even younger men can experience deficiencies. This treatment reverses the effects of low hormone levels, improving sexual interest, bone density, and muscle mass.
But as increasing numbers of men begin this treatment, new studies highlight potential heart risks.
- A study published in November 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests a 30% increased risk for stroke, heart attack, and death in older men (average age of 60), many having underlying cardiovascular disease, who had been using testosterone therapy...
- According to new findings published in the journal PLOS One, men older than age 65 had double the risk of having a heart attack in the 90 days after filling their first testosterone prescription. And for younger men with existing heart conditions, the risk was two- to three- fold,. However, younger, healthier men saw no increased risk.
Consider All the Facts
At this time, FDA has not concluded that FDA-approved testosterone treatment increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, or death. If you or a loved one are taking testosterone, don’t stop without discussing the risks and benefits with a healthcare professional.
Learn more about testosterone treatment and find an endocrinologist—a doctor specializing in hormones—through the Endocrine Society’s Hormone Health Network.
“Association of Testosterone Therapy With Mortality, Myocardial Infarction, and Stroke in Men With Low Testosterone Levels.” R. Vigen et al. JAMA. Nov. 6, 2013, vol. 310, no. 17, pp. 1829-36. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24193080.
“FDA evaluating risk of stroke, heart attack and death with FDA-approved testosterone products.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jan. 31, 2014. www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/ucm383904.htm.
“Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infarction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men.” W.D. Finkle et al. PLOS ONE. January 2014, vol. 9, no. 1, e85805. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0085805.
“Low Testosterone and Men’s Health.” Health Network, The Endocrine Society, 2014. www.hormone.org/questions-and-answers/2010/low-testosterone-and-mens-health.
“Testosterone Products: Drug Safety Communication - FDA Investigating Risk of Cardiovascular Events.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jan. 31, 2014.www.fda.gov/safety/medwatch/safetyinformation/safetyalertsforhumanmedicalproducts/ucm384225.htm.
“What Does Testosterone Do?” The Endocrine Society, 2014. www.hormone.org/hormones-and-health/what-do-hormones-do/what-does-testosterone-do.