July 3, 2014 — A new study has concluded that older men who use testosterone injections are not more likely to suffer a heart attack.
The study was published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy by researchers from the University of Texas at Galveston. Conclusions were based on data from over 25,000 men over age 65 who were receiving Medicare. The sample included 6,355 men who used at least one injection of testosterone between January 1997 and December 2005.
The researchers concluded that men on testosterone were not more likely to have a heart attack. Testosterone use was actually mildly protective for men who had pre-existing risk-factors for heart disease.
The study seems reassuring, but it has some important limitations. First of all, researchers only looked at testosterone injections. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed by men who were injured by testosterone gels, creams, and patches that are applied to the skin, such as AndroGel, AndroDerm, Testim, or Fortesta.
Another important limitation is that much of the data was collected before a major boom in testosterone therapy in the United States. Between 2001 and 2011, the use of testosterone (primarily gel products) skyrocketed more than 500%, in correlation with an increase in direct-to-consumer advertising of testosterone for “Low T.”
The authors of the study admitted that the debate is far from over, and likely will not be settled until large-scale, randomized clinical trials are complete.
Testosterone therapy is well-known to increase the risk of polycythemia, a disorder that can thicken the blood. Last month, the FDA required manufacturers of all testosterone products to add warnings about venous blood clots, including venous thromboembolism (VTE), deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and pulmonary embolism (PE). However, these new warnings do not include heart attacks or stroke, which are caused by arterial blood clots.