According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), men who take prescription testosterone drugs are at greater risk of experiencing a stroke, heart attack and even death.
A recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests the risk of cardiovascular disease is increased in men who take testosterone, a hormone that normally is created in men’s testicles and maintains bone growth, muscle and sexual function.
But by taking these drugs, men over the age of 65, whether or not they have a history, are twice as likely to have a heart attack within 90 days. Equally as alarming, among younger men with a history of heart disease, the risk of a heart attack is a whopping three times higher. But those without a history of heart disease have no increased risk.
The PLOS ONE study, which looked at more than 55,000 patients who were part of the American healthcare database, mirrored a smaller study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in November. This study revealed older men with underlying heart disease had a 30 percent greater chance of experiencing a heart attack or stroke after undergoing testosterone therapy.
Generally, low testosterone levels lead to depression, fatigue, reduced libido and decreased muscle mass. (Yes, we understand the desire for treatment.)
FDA-approved testosterone medications can help boost low testosterone that has occurred because of a genetic condition or chemotherapy. Testosterone comes in many forms, including short-acting injections, skin patches and topical gels. These treatments generate billions of dollars in sales for the companies who make them. So to learn they aren’t safe, and hard on your heart, is truly shocking.
In recent years, the safety of one particular long-acting testosterone product has been questioned by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (USFDA). Although some panel members argued that the drug offers a valuable alternative to existing products, others were unconvinced of its safety, because it can also cause blood vessel blockages in the lungs.
While the USFDA continues to evaluate the findings from the new studies that outline the negative aspects of testosterone drugs, they have issued a country-wide alert. But the alert did little other than state how patients should consult with their physician before discontinuing their treatments. The real risk seems to be prescribing these drugs in the first place. If they cause harm, patients should be asking more questions before accepting a prescription.
The FDA commented on the speculation into the drug treatments by saying, “All healthcare professionals should consider whether the benefits of FDA-approved testosterone treatment are likely to exceed the potential risks of treatment.”
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