Millions of men with low testosterone are using patches, gels, injections, and products like products like Bio-T-Gel to treat symptoms of “Low T.” Unfortunately, testosterone is known to increase the risk of blood clots in the legs. If these blood clots travel in the bloodstream, they can potentially cause a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs), with life-threatening consequences.
Bio-T-Gel and Pulmonary Embolism
Bio-T-Gel is a testosterone replacement product that is approved for men with hypogonadism. Like all testosterone medications, Bio-T-Gel can increase the risk of blood clots in the legs — a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Symptoms may include pain, swelling, and redness in the legs.
The problem with DVT is that it can cause pulmonary embolisms. Small blood clots in the legs can migrate in the body and get trapped in the lungs. In 2011, Translational Research described several cases of pulmonary embolism in men on testosterone with previously-undiagnosed genetic risk-factors for blood clotting (estimated to affect 5% of the general population).
If you were not aware of this risk before starting Bio-T-Gel, you are not alone — many lawsuits accuse drug-makers of downplaying risk information and aggressively promoting testosterone for men without hypogonadism.
What is a Pulmonary Embolism?
Pulmonary embolism is the sudden blockage of a pulmonary artery in the lungs, which prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching tissues in the lungs, causing lung tissue to die. In many cases, pulmonary embolisms occur when a blood clot in the legs breaks loose and small pieces travel to the lungs. The condition is sometimes called a “pulmonary infarction,” and it is like a heart attack in the lungs.
Symptoms of a pulmonary embolism usually develop suddenly, and may include:
- Chest pain (may feel like a heart attack)
- Stabbing pain in the chest when breathing deeply
- Coughing up blood
- Blue-gray skin discoloration (caused by low oxygen in the blood)
- Irregular or rapid heartbeats
- Sudden death
Diagnosis & Treatment
Call 911 and seek emergency medical attention for a suspected pulmonary embolism. The condition is life-threatening and treatment is limited. Without treatment, about 33% of pulmonary embolisms are deadly.
Tests that may be used to diagnose a pulmonary embolism include chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, lung perfusion scan, CT scan, and more. Treatment may include administering a “clot-busting” drug like heparin. In severe cases, doctors may need to use a catheter or surgery to remove the clot.