Testosterone could help older men live longer lives, a new study reports. A new investigation of 83,000 veterans suggests this hormone could promote improved cardiac health.
Men with low testosterone who took part in testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) were found to have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events than other patients.
Kansas City VA Medical Centre researchers undertook a massive study of male patients that investigators claim is the largest TRT study ever completed. This study examined the records of men who had received the hormone treatments between December 1999 and May 2014. Investigators found just 63 percent of patients saw their testosterone levels return to normal. The study revealed that normal levels of the male hormone were enough to significantly reduce the risk of cardiac problems.
"In this study of men, without previous history MI or stroke, with low testosterone levels, normalization of testosterone levels using TRT is associated with lower mortality, fewer MIs, and strokes. This is the first study to demonstrate that significant benefit is observed only if the dose is adequate to normalize the testosterone levels," Rajat S. Barua, a cardiologist who participated in the study, said.
Testosterone is a hormone that acts as a "fountain of youth" in some ways for men. The chemical peaks in male bodies during their teen years and declines as men grow older. Symptoms of this loss can include reduced sexual desire, sleeplessness, increased body fat and hair loss. This hormone can be replaced through injections, patches or a topical gel. Despite this, few studies have been conducted on the safety of supplementing the male sex hormone.
Low testosterone is becoming a greater concern in recent years as people become more aware of the condition. Some advertisements for prescription drugs encourage men feeling lethargic or who are losing interest in sex to ask their doctors about the hormone. However, this is not always what is driving changes in men as they age.
"Sometimes it is testosterone, sometimes it is the thyroid, and sometimes it's something unrelated to hormones," Spyros Mezitis, a physician who often treats the condition, said.
Further studies will continue to examine the role testosterone plays in mitigating risks of heart attacks and strokes. Possible side effects in patients will also be examined in order to determine if risks of TRT are manageable. Earlier studies have suggested that such treatments could be tied to sleep apnea (uneven breathing), increased growth rate of prostate cancer and blood clots.
Analysis of actions of testosterone in lowering cardiac risks was profiled in the European Heart Journal.
Photo: Ed Schipul | Flickr