Health Canada is concerned about a “growing body of evidence” linking testosterone and heart problems, based on studies and case reports. These events include blood clots in the lungs or legs, heart attack, stroke, and a heart rhythm that is irregular or fast.
They recommended against prescribing testosterone therapy to men who have non-specific symptoms of low testosterone unless they have had laboratory tests to confirm hypogonadism and other explanations have been ruled out.
Prescriptions for testosterone products jumped five-fold from 2000-2011, reaching 5.3 million prescriptions. Recent studies indicate that only about half of men on testosterone actually have hypogonadism. About 25% never had a blood test before receiving a prescription.
Health Canada has asked manufacturers to add information about cardiovascular side effects to the label. They are also asking healthcare professionals to assess patients for risk-factors before giving them a testosterone replacement products. During treatment, patients should be monitored routinely for heart problems.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Health Canada recommends contacting a healthcare professional if you develop any of the following symptoms while using testosterone replacement products:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg
- Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding
- Trouble with walking or seeing
- Headache, light-headedness, dizziness
- Rapid pulse
- Coughing up blood
- Swelling or pain in the leg (including ankle and foot)
- Changes in skin color (e.g., turning pale, red or blue)
- Fluttering in your chest
- Racing heartbeat
- Fainting or near fainting