A little over a year ago two articles were published suggesting an increased cardiovascular risk associated with testosterone therapy. There was tremendous media hype surrounding those articles that ultimately resulted in a warning from the FDA; a warning that was premature in my opinion (see “Testosterone and Your Heart”). Looking at the same data, the European Medicines Agency concluded that there was “no consistent evidence” of increased cardiovascular risks. Other research has even indicated a protective effect of testosterone on the heart. That protective effect was recently reaffirmed in a new large scale study from the Veterans Affairs system. Although the results were provocative and striking, this study has not been met with any of the same media attention.
In this VA study, published in the European Heart Journal, researchers examined the records of 83,010 men over age 50 with documented low testosterone that received care from the VA between 1999 and 2014. The men were divided into three groups: those treated and achieved normal testosterone levels, those treated but did not reach normal, and those that were untreated. All three groups were matched for other risk factors such as BMI, LDL cholesterol, use of aspirin, beta blockers or statins and having other chronic diseases. The results were pretty dramatic. The treated men that reached normal levels were 56% less likely to die, 24% less likely to have a heart attack and 36% less likely to have a stroke than the untreated men. The difference between those who were treated and attained normal levels and those who were treated but did not attain normal levels was similar but less pronounced.
Although this study supports the safety and benefits of testosterone therapy in men, it does not mean that everyone feeling run down with low sex drive is a suitable candidate. Patients need to have an appropriate evaluation and have treatment prescribed by a physician familiar with the therapy and the necessary monitoring of levels once therapy has begun. If you or someone you know has concerns about “low T”, go to our contact page or call us at 860-561-2294 to schedule a confidential consultation.