Low testosterone appears to be a marker for several cardiovascular risk factors, but there appears to be no direct association between testosterone levels and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), individual cardiac events, or death.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studied data from 1,558 men between the ages of 45 and 64 years (mean age – 63 years).
All of the men were participants in the larger Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, a prospective multicenter project that began in 1987.
None of the men were on androgen therapy and none had a history of coronary heart disease, stroke, or heart failure. All of them provided morning blood samples.
The research team studied the relationship between testosterone levels and carotid intima media thickness (cIMT), a measure of atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries, which bring blood to the brain. They also looked for any links between testosterone levels and cardiovascular events (incidents that can damage the heart), death from heart problems, and death from any cause.
They found that lower testosterone levels were associated with several risk factors for heart disease and stroke: a higher body mass index, greater waist circumference, diabetes, hypertension, and lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
However, they found no association between testosterone and cIMT, cardiovascular events, or death.
“Our results are reassuring that neither high nor low [testosterone] levels directly predict atherosclerosis, but are a marker for other cardiovascular risk factors,” the authors wrote.
The study was first published online in January in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Lead author Reshmi Srinath also presented the results at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting and expo, held in San Diego, California last March.
Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC)
Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Test”
“Carotid Artery Disease”
(Reviewed: January 2014)
Kaye, Julian, PhD
“Testosterone Levels Not Associated with Stroke Risk”
(March 8, 2015)
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Srinath, Reshmi, et al.
“Endogenous Testosterone and its Relationship to Preclinical and Clinical Measures of Cardiovascular Disease in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study”
(Abstract. Published online: January 13, 2015)