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Testosterone Treatment Tied to Cardiovascular Problems in Older Men

Filed November 6th, 2013 Laurie

Older men taking testosterone supplements put themselves at an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death within a few years, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to researcher Dr. P. Michael Ho, the consequences for younger, healthier men ingesting extra testosterone are unclear. “It does kind of raise the question of, maybe when patients and their physicians are thinking about starting testosterone therapy, potential risks such as the ones we looked at should be in that discussion,” he told Reuters.

The number of middle-age U.S. men receiving testosterone treatment has more than tripled over the last decade, and few of those men actually underwent a blood test to see if the treatment was truly needed, according to Reuters.

For the study, researchers gathered information on about 8,700 men diagnosed with low testosterone who were seen at (VA) hospitals. Each patient underwent a test for plaque buildup in their heart arteries between 2005 and 2011. Shortly after the test, one in seven of them started using testosterone gels, patches, or injections, Reuters reported.

Three years after the heart tests, 20 percent of the men who had not started using testosterone treatment had a heart attack, stroke, or died, compared to 26 percent of the men who had started using testosterone. Researchers concluded that men who used testosterone had a 29 percent higher risk of heart attack, stroke, or death. In fact, the men who started taking testosterone initially had fewer health problems than those who didn’t, yet still had more cardiovascular problems in the end, Reuters reported.

“I think (taking testosterone) is an individual decision, but I think it’s worth weighing the potential benefits of testosterone therapy versus any potential risks before starting it,” Ho told Reuters Health. “If a man is taking testosterone and he doesn’t feel any better, he should stop it.”

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