Writing for the New York Times, John La Puma notes that men’s testosterone levels appear to decline naturally as men age, with certain factors, such as obesity, further decreasing testosterone and lowering the man’s sex drive. Pharmaceutical companies have branded this natural part of aging a disease, and recommended testosterone therapy. But these men may be put at an increased risk of heart attack.
A study published in PLOS One (1/29/14), examined the rate of acute non-fatal heart attacks in patients during the first 90 days following prescription of testosterone therapy and compared that to the rate in the first year following therapy. They also compared the rates with those of men who were prescribed a different medication.
Researchers found that in men aged 65 and up, there was double the increase in risk of heart attack in 90 days after filling their initial prescription. Younger men with a history of heart disease had two to three times the risk in that initial 90 days.
“In older men, and in younger men with pre-existing diagnosed heart disease, the risk of MI [myocardial infarction] following initiation of TT prescription is substantially increased,” researchers wrote.
But the concern extends beyond those 90 days.
READ MORE TESTOSTERONE LEGAL NEWS
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is concerned enough about the risk of heart problems linked to testosterone therapy that it announced at the end of January it was conducting an investigation of the risks. The agency noted that it has been monitoring the risk and decided to reassess the issue based on two separate studies that suggested a link between testosterone therapy and an increased risk of heart problems.
“Testosterone products are FDA-approved only for use in men who lack or have low testosterone levels in conjunction with an associated medical condition,” the FDA wrote.