The Prescribing Information for Fortesta (testosterone gel) warns about the risk of blood clots in the legs. This condition, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can lead to life-threatening complications like pulmonary embolism (blood clots in the lungs).
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Fortesta and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
Fortesta is a testosterone gel product that is known to cause blood clots in the legs — also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The testosterone in Fortesta is absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream.
The problem is that testosterone can increase the number of blood platelets. In some cases, this can thicken the blood, increase blood pressure, and make other physiological changes that increase your risk of blood clots. This is why many doctors recommend getting a blood test before starting testosterone to check if you belong to the 5% of Americans who have genetic risk-factors for blood clots (such as Factor V Leiden).
What is DVT?
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DTV) is a blood clot in one of the deep veins in the body. DVT usually occurs in a deep vein that runs through muscles in the lower leg, calf, or thigh. The most serious complication is a pulmonary embolism, which occurs when blood clots in the legs travel to the lungs. DVT and pulmonary embolism together are known as venous thromboembolism (VTE).
Warning Signs & Symptoms
About half of cases of DVT do not have symptoms. If you think you have a blood clot, contact a doctor immediately. Possible symptoms can include:
- Pain, tenderness, or heavy aching feeling in one of your legs (usually the calf)
- Leg swelling
- Warm skin in the area of the clot
- Redness of the skin
Most people with DVT will be given blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants) to prevent blood clots from getting bigger and stop blood clots from breaking off. The most popular intravenous drug, heparin, can also help dissolve existing clots. Oral anticoagulants, such as warfarin, help prevent new blood clots. You may also need to wear compression stockings, which can help prevent post-thrombotic syndrome.
Resources & Additional Information
- Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment — NIH MedlinePlus
- DVT and Pulmonary Embolism — Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
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