It’s hard for some to imagine that testosterone replacement treatments can be linked to cardiovascular risks including heart attacks, strokes, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism But the risk is real, says ClassAction.org., a group of online professionals who report on legal issues for consumers.
According to the report, testosterone replacement therapies, including gels, patches and injections, can increase the amount of red blood cells in the body that can coagulate and cause the blood to thicken. This can make it more difficult for blood to flow through the body, which can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems, including heart attacks. This risk is even greater in older men because their arteries may be narrow due to old age or disease.
The journal PLOS ONE reported a study that tracked more than 50,000 men taking a new prescription for testosterone and compared their rates of heart attacks before and after starting the hormone treatments. Researchers found that middle-aged men with a history of heart disease and men who were 65 years of age and older were twice as likely to have a heart attack after using testosterone treatments.
Another study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who used testosterone treatments had a 30 percent increased risk of having a heart attack or so-called “mini stroke.” Those who used testosterone treatment for longer periods of time were at greater risk of complications.
In 2009, researchers abruptly ended a study in progress testing testosterone gel among older men because some participants were experiencing heart problems, including heart attacks.
In March 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the makers of testosterone treatments to update their safety labels to include the risk for heart attacks and strokes.