Testosterone therapy slashes men’s heart disease risk

Heart disease - is this a breakthrough?
Heart disease - is this a breakthrough?
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Testosterone hormone therapy for older men with coronary heart disease slashed the risk of a stroke, heart attack or death by 80 per cent, a new study found.

As people get older it is common for coronary arteries to become narrowed and if the clot up and trigger a heart attack or stroke.

Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the UK responsible for more than 73,000 deaths each year.

About one in six men and one in 10 women die from CHD.

In the UK, there are an estimated 2.3 million people living with CHD and around 2 million people affected by angina - the most common symptom of coronary heart disease).

The new study found testosterone therapy helped elderly men with low testosterone levels and pre-existing coronary artery disease reduce their risks of major adverse cardiovascular event.

Those not given the therapy were 80 per cent more likely to suffer an adverse event.

Professor Dr Brent Muhlestein said: “The study shows that using testosterone replacement therapy to increase testosterone to normal levels in androgen-deficient men doesn’t increase their risk of a serious heart attack or stroke.

“That was the case even in the highest-risk men - those with known pre-existing heart disease.”

The study by the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Salt Lake City followed 755 male patients aged between 58 and 78 and all had severe coronary artery disease.

They were split into three different groups, which received varied doses of testosterone administered either by injection or gel.

It found after a year 64 patients who weren’t taking testosterone supplements suffered major adverse cardiovascular events, while only 12 who were taking medium doses of testosterone and nine who were taking high doses did.

After three years, 125 non-testosterone-therapy patients suffered major adverse cardiovascular events, while only 38 medium-dose and 22 high-dose patients did.

Prof Muhlestein said: “Although this study indicates that hypo-androgenic men with coronary artery disease might actually be protected by testosterone replacement, this is an observational study that doesn’t provide enough evidence to justify changing treatment recommendations.

“It does, however, substantiate the need for a randomised clinical trial that can confirm or refute the results of this study.”

Previous research by the centre in 2015 found taking supplemental testosterone didn’t increase the risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke for men who had low testosterone levels and no prior history of heart disease.

Yet the US regulator the Food and Drug Administration required manufacturers of all approved testosterone products to add labels outlining the coronary risks of the testosterone supplementation last year.

Prof Muhlestein added: “The FDA’s warning was based on the best clinical information available at the time.

“As further information, like our research, becomes available - and especially after a large randomised clinical outcomes trial can be accomplished - hopefully the FDA will be able to change its warning.”

The study was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session.