Study: Testosterone supplements heighten heart attack, stroke risk


Researchers report a huge increase in testosterone prescriptions worldwide.

"There's a big push for men to be on testosterone supplements," said Dr. Harry Balian, a Glendale Adventist Medical Center cardiologist.

Testosterone therapy has been shown to help improve muscle mass and sexual function. But it's not clear what effect it may have on heart attacks and strokes.

So Dr. Michael Ho and his colleagues followed 8,700 veterans at several VA hospitals around the country.

All of the men in the study had low testosterone levels and had their arteries checked for blockages. Eighty percent of the men had heart disease.

"About 14 percent of patients were started on testosterone therapy at some point in time after the procedure," said Ho.

In a Journal of the American Medical Association report, the men who received testosterone supplementation had a higher risk of death, heart attack and stroke compared to men who did not start the therapy.

"Increasing testosterone levels in your body may in one sense improve your bone health and muscle health, but it can also trigger more of an inflammatory process inside your arteries, which can cause heart attacks and strokes," said Balian.

Dr. Balian say this study can help physicians discuss testosterone replacement with their patients, and those with a history of cardiovascular problems may want to stay away from these supplements.

"Talk to you doctor, you want to be very careful because men that have history of heart disease, they have already plaque and inflammation in their arteries," said Balian.

And if you don't have heart disease, experts say you want to make sure the benefits of testosterone outweigh the risks.

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