The use of testosterone replacement therapy is controversial; studies have shown evidence for the therapy both decreasing and increasing risk for cardiovascular disease, but the newest research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, provides evidence for its protective effects.
Testosterone replacement therapy can be applied to treat hormone disorders, like hypogonadism, or low-functioning testicles that fail to produce normal levels of testosterone, resulting in a low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, low energy, reduced muscle mass and bone density, and anemia. It can also treat androgen deficiency, low levels of male hormones, affecting five percent of men younger than 60. Symptoms of androgen deficiency include hot flashes, sweating, insomnia, nervousness, irritability, tiredness, loss of motivation, short-term memory problems, and much more.
However, the jury is still out on whether testosterone replacement therapy as a treatment for these types of hormone disorders is a smart decision. Some scientists are concerned that it might elevate the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other adverse cardiac events. Yet other research shows that low testosterone levels might also be a risk factor, making testosterone replacement therapy a viable option for reducing the risk of heart disease.
A new study of nearly 45 thousand male patients, nine thousand treated with testosterone replacement therapy, pushed the data in favor of the hormone treatment being beneficial, showing that it reduced risk of heart disease by 33 percent compared to men not undergoing hormone therapy.
Researchers followed the thousands of study participants for about three and a half years. Ten percent of the men not receiving testosterone replacement therapy had a heart attack or stroke, and 8.2 percent of men who did receive hormone treatment had a heart attack or stroke. The study researchers saw this finding as a clear example of there being no significant difference between men receiving and not receiving testosterone replacement therapy.
"Our hope is that these findings help alleviate the concerns that patients with androgen deficiency and their doctors may have had about prescribing and taking testosterone replacement therapy,” explained lead author T. Craig Cheetham, PharmD, MS.