Testosterone could increase heart attack risk

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– The outcome of a testosterone study recently released has a lot of men worried. Researchers concluded it could increase the risk of a heart attack.

We’re all seeing more drug ads on television, promoting testosterone. It’s a hormone produced in the body which declines as a man ages.

The drug is only approved for men with low levels of testosterone and show signs of symptoms.

But in that recent study, researchers found it could raise the risk of heart attack in some cases doubling it.

As a man grows older, his level of testosterone declines.

That could lead to a number of issues such as loss of libido, fatigue, and cognitive skills.

But when testosterone is prescribed new research cites an increased risk of heart attack among both middle aged and older men.

“The evidence is suggestive but clearly not definitive,” said Dr. Thomas Gill, Director of Program on Aging at Yale School of Medicine. “We don’t know whether the men in the study actually had low levels of testosterone.”

He points out it was ‘not’ a clinical trial.

“The study took advantage of data that were assembled from a large administrative data base that had information about medication use and a variety of medical conditions,” said Gill.

His recommendation…

“Men should not be treated with testosterone unless their levels of testosterone are abnormally low, even then the evidence of benefit for treatment of testosterone among older men with low levels of testosterone is uncertain,” said Gill.

Yale is one of 12 sites in the country taking part in the Testosterone Trial designed to get a clearer picture of the potential benefit of testosterone treatment, including its impact on the leading cause of heart attacks.

“We’re monitoring atherosclerosis with CT scans of the heart vessels to determine whether testosterone may actually reverse atherosclerosis. There is some evidence of that,” said Gill.

“I wanted to know what I might be up against,” said John Zogby.

He is among the 800 men participating.

“On my mother’s side, 3 or 4 of her brothers had heart disease,” said Zogby.

The men are treated with testosterone or a placebo for a year.

“We would come in here do some physical workouts, walk out in the hall for six minutes, getting our blood tested, taking some cognitive tests, memory tests,” said Zogby.

The outcome of this nationwide trial could potentially affect a man’s quality of life.

Dr. Gill says there is concern that testosterone could increase the risk of prostate cancer and ‘that’  is being closely watched. So far though, the panel monitoring the data for the Testerone Trial has  not raised safety concerns.
The results should be released later this year.

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