Men who use testosterone replacement therapy have a 63 percent increased risk of developing a life-threatening blood clot in a vein, and the risk peaks rapidly during the first six months of use, according to a study led by Dr. Carlos Martinez of the Institute for Epidemiology, Statistics and Informatics in Frankfurt, Germany.
Blood clots in the veins, a condition known as venous thromboembolism (VTE), is serious. The clot can travel to the heart and cause a heart attack, to the brain and cause stroke, or to the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism. All of these blood clot-related problems can kill. Which is why men who take testosterone treatments should take note.
Testosterone replacement therapy is designed to boost levels of the male hormone in men with hypogonadism, a condition in which the body does not produce enough testosterone due to defect, injury or disease. It is not intended for men with age-related hypogonadism. Manufacturers of testosterone products have aggressively marketed the use of testosterone treatments for the treatment of so-called Low T and promised relief of symptoms such as weight gain, low libido and muscle loss.
Mounting studies are revealing that use of testosterone treatments – especially in men who don’t meet the criteria for treatment – can lead to serious adverse events. Use of the products has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, blood clots and death.
The most recent study, which involved about 19,000 men paired with 909,000 age-matched patients in a control group, found that the blood clot risk with testosterone therapy is as high as 63 percent, peaks during the first six months of use, and lasts for about nine months, lead researcher Dr. Martinez said.
More research is needed to confirm the increased risk of VTE in patients taking testosterone therapy, he said, adding that studies should also investigate the risk of blood clots in first-time testosterone users, how long the risk lingers, and whether it is related to the condition that prompted treatment in the first place.