Testosterone & Coronary Artery Disease
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, only two percent of men aged 40 to 80 suffered from low testosterone, known as “Low T,” yet prescriptions for testosterone supplements grew five-fold between 2000 and 2011. However, recent research indicates that the use of testosterone supplements could lead to an increase risk of heart attacks, coronary artery disease and stroke.
In a study published in January 2014, researchers found that the risk of cardiovascular disease and the use of testosterone supplements was growing rapidly. The study, which compared incidences of non-fatal myocardial infarction in patients who used testosterone to those that did not, men over the age of 65 showed a two-fold increase in the incidence of heart attack after using testosterone supplements. In younger men with a history of heart attack, the incidence of heart attack was three times as great as those who did not take the supplement.
A study published in July 2010 found similar incidences of coronary artery disease in veterans who received services from the Veteran’s Administration. In that study, the men who were prescribed testosterone treatment had a higher incidence of cardiac events than those that did not take the supplements.
Types of Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is the number one killer of people in the United States, and more than 13 million Americans are affected by it. Coronary artery disease is caused by plaque buildup in arteries, known as arteriosclerosis, that can lead to blockages, which result in reduced blood flow to the heart. Because the heart is starved of oxygen, it cannot pump properly, and this could lead to a heart attack or stroke. High cholesterol can lead to coronary artery disease as it deposits plaque on the lining of the blood vessels. Plaque then releases chemicals meant to heal, but the inner walls of blood vessels become sticky, causing other substances, such as lipoproteins and calcium, to enter the blood stream and build up on other vessel walls.
Though some patients witness little to none, symptoms of coronary artery disease include:
- shortness of breath
- irregular heartbeat
- excessive sweating
Importance of Testosterone
For men’s health, testosterone plays an important role by maintaining muscle mass and bone density, as well as keeping lipid profiles and red blood cell levels at the correct levels. Those levels help men feel more vigorous and energetic.
Due to the importance of testosterone in sexual function, one of the first symptoms men report to their doctor is a loss of libido, as well as chronic fatigue, poor concentration and memory loss.Men with extremely low testosterone could experience breast enlargement, urination issues and unexplained weight gain. Because testosterone is a hormone, the levels in the bloodstream naturally lower. In many cases, diet and exercise can help improve the symptoms of low testosterone without the need for supplements.
Extensive advertising of products such as Axiron and Androgel have caused doctors to see more patients complaining of symptoms, and many are simply prescribing the drug with no blood tests. Protocol for testosterone supplements indicate that only men with extremely low levels and persistent symptoms should be prescribed the drugs. However, a recent study found that 25 percent of men who were given prescriptions for testosterone supplements had not been tested to determine if they even had low testosterone.
For patients who are considering therapy for low testosterone, it is critical understand that the use of the drug could lead to coronary artery disease based on recent research. In some cases, other therapies may resolve a low testosterone issue, such as diet and exercise, as an alternative to testosterone replacement therapies that can pose serious health risks. Speak with an experienced attorney immediately to discuss your situation as see if you are entitled to compensation.