Supplemental testosterone is a popular way for men to fight natural aspects of aging — decreased energy, sagging muscles, low libido, and more. Unfortunately, new studies suggest that testosterone therapy may significantly increase the risk of stroke.
Testosterone and Stroke
Testosterone treatments (injections, patches, and gels like AndroGel) are aggressively advertised to treat symptoms of “Low T,” including many normal aspects of aging — low energy, depression, decreased libido, sagging muscles, and more.
One side effect of testosterone is an increased risk of blood clots. Testosterone boosts blood pressure, increases the number of red blood cells, and makes blood thicker — all factors that contribute to blood clots. Although blood clots usually occur within 3-6 months of starting testosterone therapy, they can occur at any time.
In addition, blood clots from testosterone therapy can cause stroke (blood clots in the brain). Although advertisements for “Low T” emphasize the benefits, they minimize the severe, life-threatening risk of stroke. In addition, testosterone therapy is a lifetime commitment — once you start, the body stops producing its own testosterone.
FDA Warns About Testosterone Stroke Risk
March 3, 2015 — The FDA has published a Safety Communication to announce that the makers of testosterone replacement products must add warnings about the possible increased risk of stroke. They also must conduct clinical trials to study the risk of stroke. The FDA has emphasized that testosterone is not approved for treating “Low T” due to aging. Click here to read more.
If you use testosterone, seek emergency medical attention if symptoms of a stroke are present, such as:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Weakness in one part or one side of the body
- Slurred speech
Studies of Testosterone Stroke Risk
November 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association — Testosterone therapy has been linked to a 30% increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and other severe cardiovascular events. After three years, the cardiovascular event-rate was 25.7% for men on testosterone and 19.9% of men who were not. Out of 1,200 men on testosterone, 33 had a stroke.
What is a Stroke?
Testosterone treatment is associated with ischemic strokes, in which blood clots are trapped in the brain and cut off circulation. Every minute during a stroke causes 2 million brain cells to die, resulting in permanent brain damage. Minor strokes may cause muscle weakness in the arms or legs. Severe strokes may cause paralysis, memory loss, speech problems, or even death.
- One side of the face droops
- When the person raises their arms, they drift downward
- Speech is slurred or strange
- Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement
- Vision changes
- Trouble walking or loss of balance
- Sudden dizziness or severe headache