January 29, 2014 — Men over 65 who use testosterone therapy are twice as likely to have a heart attack within 90 days, according to a study published today in the journal PLoS One.
Men younger than 65 with a pre-existing history of heart disease were up to three-times more likely to have a heart attack. The increased risk is equivalent to smoking two to three packs of cigarettes per day or having extremely high cholesterol.
Another study, published in November 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that testosterone therapy increases the risk of heart problems. After three years, researchers found that 25.7% of patients on testosterone therapy had a cardiovascular event, compared to 19.9% of patients who did not.
Testosterone therapy is used by about 2.9% of American men over 40, and nearly 4% of men in their 60s. Only half of these prescriptions were for men with hypogonadism, and 25% of patients never had testosterone levels checked. Doctors wrote 5.3 million prescriptions for testosterone therapy in 2011, which was a five-fold increase since 2000. The popularity is driven by aggressive advertisements urging men to seek treatment for symptoms of “low T,” including energy loss, mood changes, decreased libido, sagging muscles, and more.
Hormone replacement therapy was once marketed as a way to prevent heart disease in women, but was later found to cause heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer. Many experts are concerned that testosterone therapy in men could have similar risks.
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