One year of testosterone therapy for men with low levels of the hormone does not appear to increase their risk for heart problems, British researchers found.
“We were unable to find evidence … that testosterone increases risks of mortality or cardiovascular and/or cerebrovascular [heart and/or stroke] events in the short- to medium-term in men with low testosterone,” said study leader Dr. Channa Jayasena, head of andrology at Imperial College London.
As the researchers explained, testosterone increases hematocrit, which can boost the risk of blood clots (venous thromboembolism) that can travel to the heart or brain.
But the potential heart risks of testosterone therapy have been unclear, and previous clinical trials have not provided enough evidence on whether testosterone causes heart problems during a man’s first year of treatment.
To find answers, Jayasena and his colleagues analyzed 35 controlled trials that included more than 3,400 men with low testosterone.
Whether taking testosterone or a placebo, men had the same overall risk of heart and/or cerebrovascular events such as stroke, the analysis found. Their risk for subtypes of these problems was also similar.
Men receiving testosterone had a lower death rate than those taking a placebo, but the difference was not considered statistically significant.
Testosterone therapy significantly reduced total cholesterol, “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and triglycerides compared with placebo. But there were no significant differences between the testosterone and placebo groups in “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL), blood pressure, blood sugar levels, diabetes rates and prostate problems.
The results were presented Monday at a meeting of the Endocrine Society, in Atlanta. The study is also being published in The Lancet Healthy Longevity journal.
“Researchers worldwide have come together to share their results to improve safety for patients,” Jayasena said in a meeting news release. “These data provide some reassurance to men with low testosterone and their clinicians about the safety of testosterone in the short-to-medium term, although more long-term data are required.”
Testosterone therapy did have some positive impacts on quality of life and sexual function, but the results varied, according to the findings.
There’s more on low testosterone at the Urology Care Foundation.
SOURCE: Endocrine Society, news release, June 8, 2022