Striant, a popular testosterone replacement product, has been linked to an increased risk of blood clots in the legs. If these blood clots travel to the lungs, they could cause a deadly pulmonary embolism.
Striant and Pulmonary Embolism (Blood Clots in Lungs)
Striant (testosterone buccal system) is designed to treat men with hypogonadism by delivering testosterone through mucous membranes in the mouth. The problem is that testosterone therapy is known to increase the risk of blood clots in the legs — testosterone thickens the blood and may elevate blood pressure. If these blood clots travel to the lungs, they can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. The risk appears to be greatest for older men, especially those with narrow arteries.
In 2011, Dr. Charles Glueck and colleagues published a small study showing that men with previously-undiagnosed genetic risk-factors for blood clotting were more likely to have pulmonary embolisms within the first 90 days of starting testosterone. He recommended screening patients for mutations like factor V Leiden before starting testosterone.
What is a Pulmonary Embolism?
Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blockage of an artery in the lung. It usually occurs as a complication of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition in which blood clots grow in the lower leg or thigh. If a piece of the blood clot breaks off, it can migrate through the bloodstream (called an “embolism”) and get trapped in the lungs. This combined event is sometimes known as a DVT-PE or a venous thromboembolism (VTE).
The classic symptoms of pulmonary embolism include sudden onset of chest pain, shortness of breath, and low oxygen in the bloodstream (hypoxia). The chest pain usually occurs suddenly and feels like a stabbing pain that gets worse when breathing deeply, which may be mistaken for a broken rib. It may also be described as a burning, aching, dull, or heavy sensation.
Other symptoms of pulmonary embolism include:
- Sudden cough (may contain bloody mucous)
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Shortness of breath that starts suddenly
- Bluish skin discoloration (cyanosis)
- Clammy skin
- Leg pain, redness, or swelling
- Light-headedness or fainting
- Low blood pressure