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Testosterone Therapy Tied to Heart Attack Risk

Update Date: Jan 30, 2014 11:59 AM EST

Testosterone therapy is often prescribed for men with low sex drives and energy levels. Although this type of treatment could help men deal with certain symptoms associated with low testosterone levels, a new study out of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) reported that testosterone therapy could raise the risk of heart attack particularly for select groups of men.

For this study, researchers from UCLA worked with experts from Consolidated Research in Los Angeles and the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Together, they reviewed the medical records of around 56,000 men who were prescribed with testosterone therapy. Roughly 48,000 of them were under 65-years-old.

The researchers discovered that men younger than 65 with a history of heart disease and older men had an increased risk of heart attack if they were on testosterone therapy. The team calculated that after 90 days on the treatment, the heart attack risk doubled for both groups of men. The researchers tracked the participants for another 90 days. They found that for men who did not refill their initial prescriptions, their heart attack risk fell back to the original level at the start of the study.

"We don't have enough evidence to say testosterone supplements in men under age 65 without heart disease are safe," William Finkle, the CEO of Consolidated Research said according to HealthDay. "The theory is that testosterone most likely promotes clotting."

Testosterone therapy can come in three forms, which are gel, patch or injection. In 2010, a report from the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that for men over 65, the gel version of the therapy increased heart attacks and other heart complications. This latest study is one of the first ones to examine the relationship between testosterone therapy and younger males. The researchers acknowledged the fact that they did not find a cause-and-effect relationship between testosterone therapy and heart attack risk. Men should always discuss their own risks with their doctors before starting testosterone therapy.

The findings were published in PLOS ONE.

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