Some men have low testosterone to the point so low that it’s a medical problem. How low is too low? And how many men actually need pharmaceutical help to replace the testosterone that they may be missing?
Nearly 3% of American men over 40 have been prescribed testosterone replacement therapy with sales of ‘Low-T’ drugs reaching $5 billion annually.
A recent study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) raises questions about the wisdom of testosterone therapy. The research indicates that men with previously diagnosed heart troubles and low testosterone levels, using prescription therapy can significantly boost the risk of serious problems including heart attack, stroke – and death.
The University of Texas at Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas reviewed the records of 8,700 men with low-T levels who underwent coronary angiography in the Veterans Affairs system from 2005 to 2011. Of those patients, the ones who received testosterone therapy had a 35% increase of bad cardiovascular outcomes, including stroke, heart attack or death.
Everyone in the study was at least 60 years old with heart problems. The risk for younger, healthier men was not studied.
Men who have low levels of testosterone associated with a medical condition are the only patients approved by the FDA for testosterone therapy. Hot button symptoms such as low sex drive and fatigue have led drug companies in recent years to promote the widespread use of testosterone replacement therapies. Researchers are worried that men are exposing themselves to heart risks by taking drugs that they don’t need.