If you or your partner is looking to spice up your love life, commercials for drugs to treat “low T” may have you looking at testosterone therapy as a solution for low male sex drive.
But a new study carried out jointly by UCLA, the National Institutes of Health and Consolidated Research, Inc. suggests that testosterone therapy may significantly increase the risk of heart attack.
“Low T” is advertising code that refers to low levels of the hormone testosterone. Hormones are chemical messengers that carry instructions from the brain to other parts of the body.
Testosterone is the primary hormone responsible for adult male features including growth of the penis and testes, facial hair, depth of voice and musculature.
Testosterone also affects libido or sex drive. Approximately 5 million men in the United States have low testosterone levels, according to the National Institutes of Health. This can result in a decreased sex drive, poor or no erections also known as erectile dysfunction, lower sperm count and larger breasts.
Testosterone levels naturally decline as a man gets older. Other causes of low testosterone include damage to the cells in the testicles caused by accidents, inflammation or disease such as cancer. Some drugs such as morphine and anabolic steroids can also cause testosterone levels to be lower than normal.
Advertisements promote testosterone therapy as a potential “cure” for the affects of low testosterone through the use of testosterone in a gel or patch.
The recent study used data from Truven Health Analytics to examine the cardiovascular risks for men both over and under the age of 65 who used testosterone therapy. Researchers considered medical records of 48,539 men under age 65 and 7,054 men over age 65. They concluded that men with heart disease who used testosterone therapy before age 65 double their risk of heart attack.
In addition, the study confirmed previous research that showed men over age 65 had a twofold increase in heart attack risk after using testosterone therapy regardless of any previous indications of heart disease.