Axiron, an underarm treatment for low testosterone or “Low T,” is known to increase the risk of blood clots in the legs. If these clots break loose, they can travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Without treatment, 30% of pulmonary embolisms are deadly.
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Axiron and Pulmonary Embolism
Axiron, a popular treatment for low testosterone or “Low T,” is an underarm liquid that contains 30-mg of testosterone per 1.5-mL. The Prescribing Information for Axiron includes warning information about blood clots in the legs, which may cause pain, swelling, and redness. If a blood clot breaks loose, it can travel in the bloodstream through the heart and into the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
Genetic Risk-Factors Link Testosterone and Pulmonary Embolism
In October 2011, Translational Research published a study by Dr. Charles Glueck and colleagues. The initial goal was to describe blood clot complications in men on testosterone who had no prior history of blood clots. After starting testosterone patch or gel (50-mg/day) or intramuscular testosterone injections, 3 men developed pulmonary embolism. Dr. Glueck concluded that men should be tested for genetic risk-factors for blood clotting (approximately 5% of the general population) before starting testosterone.
What is a Pulmonary Embolism?
Pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening medical condition that occurs when a blood clot obstructs pulmonary arteries, which supply lung tissue with oxygen-rich blood In most cases, the blood clots originate deep inside the lower legs, in a condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain (may get worse when breathing, coughing, or bending)
- Cough (may contain blood)
- Leg pain, swelling, and redness
- Skin is blue or gray (cyanosis)
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Dizziness or feeling light-headed
Pulmonary embolism is an emergency that must be treated promptly — about 30% of untreated, undiagnosed cases are fatal. In a hospital, doctors will administer intravenous (IV) clot-busting drugs, such as heparin. If medications do not work, doctors may need to use a catheter (long, flexible tube) to remove the clot. Patients who cannot use blood-thinning medications might receive a filter in the inferior vena cava (IVC). For long-term protection against blood clots, doctors may prescribe oral blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin.
Resources & Additional Information
- Pulmonary Embolism Overview — Mayo Clinic
- What is a pulmonary embolism? — National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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