The underarm testosterone replacement product Axiron carries warnings about the risk of blood clots in the legs (also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT). Unfortunately, recent studies indicate that Axiron and other testosterone products may also increase the risk of blood clot complications — heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, and even death.
Axiron Blood Clots
Blood clots that form in response to an injury or cut are beneficial to stop bleeding. However, when blood clots form spontaneously — especially deep inside the body — they can obstruct circulation and cause life-threatening complications.
The Prescribing Information for Axiron warns that it may cause blood clots in the legs, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These clots can grow very large and obstruct circulation in the legs, which usually causes pain, swelling, and redness. If a blood clot breaks loose, it can migrate in the bloodstream until it reaches the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
How Can Axiron Cause Blood Cots?
Axiron contains 30-mg of testosterone per 1.5-mL. Testosterone increases levels of erythropoieten, a kidney hormone that triggers production of red blood cells in bone marrow. Axiron increases the number of red blood cells, which increases blood volume, viscosity, and blood pressure. If untreated, this can damage tiny blood vessels in the kidneys and cause water retention. These side effects significantly increase the risk of developing blood clots, usually in the legs, and especially for older men who have heart disease.
Some Serious Complications of Blood Clots
Blood clots are an extremely serious complication of Axiron. In a study of nearly 600 men hospitalized in the last three years with DVT and pulmonary embolism, 1.2% reported using testosterone. Several patients developed serious complications — one man had osteonecrosis (bone death) in his hip, and another man went blind in one eye.
Other serious complications of blood clots include:
- Heart attack: Blood clots obstruct coronary arteries in the heart. In 2014, PLOS One published a study linking testosterone to a 2X increased risk of heart attack for men over 65, and even higher risks for men with heart disease.
- Pulmonary embolism: Blood clots in the lungs. The most common serious complication of DVT.
- Stroke: Blood clots in the brain. In 2013, JAMA published a study linking testosterone to a 30% increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and death.