New research suggests that in older men with low testosterone and coronary artery disease, testosterone replacement therapy might protect against cardiovascular events like heart attacks, strokes, and death.
Scientists from the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute presented these findings in Chicago last month at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session.
The study involved 755 men between the ages of 58 and 78. All of the men had low testosterone and pre-existing severe coronary artery disease.
The men were divided into three groups. Two groups received testosterone therapy – either a high dose or a medium dose – by injection or gel. The third group was not treated with testosterone at all.
At the one-year mark, 64 of the men in the no-testosterone group had had a major adverse cardiovascular event. Corresponding numbers for the men taking testosterone were lower: 12 men in the medium-dose group and nine in the high-dose group had such events.
At three years, 125 men in the no-testosterone group had had a major adverse cardiovascular event, compared to 38 in the medium-dose group and 22 in the high-dose group.
While the results are encouraging, clinicians should not be changing their treatment plans, according to cardiologist Brent Muhlestein, MD, the co-director of cardiovascular research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.
“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,” Dr. Muhlestein said in a press release. “It does, however, substantiate the need for a randomized clinical trial that can confirm or refute the results of this study.”
The study responds to concerns about testosterone therapy and cardiovascular risks, which prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to require warnings on the packages of FDA-approved testosterone products. The agency also called for more research.
“The FDA’s warning was based on the best clinical information available at the time,” Dr. Muhlestein said in the press release. “As further information, like our research, becomes available — and especially after a large randomized clinical outcomes trial can be accomplished — hopefully the FDA will be able to change its warning.”
“New Study Finds Testosterone Supplementation Reduces Heart Attack and Stroke Risk in Men with Heart Disease”
(News release. April 3, 2016)
“Testosterone supplement reduces heart attack risk from heart disease”(April 4, 2016)