- Study found that HRT benefited men between 58-78 with heart conditions
- Findings disprove claims testosterone may worsen heart problems
- Scientists studied 755 hearth patients who were given hormone treatment
Giving the hormone testosterone to older men can radically reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes, research has shown.
Hormone replacement therapy for men was found to benefit those aged between 58 and 78 who had heart conditions.
The findings appear to disprove previous claims testosterone may worsen heart problems, researchers say.
Scientists studied 755 heart patients, who were given supplements of the male hormone either injected or in a gel form.
Those who received the testosterone therapy were 80 per cent less likely to suffer a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke than those who did not.
This was despite previous research suggesting that testosterone supplements can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required manufacturers of all approved testosterone products to add labels outlining the danger.
Lead researcher Dr Brent Muhlestein, from the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, US, said: ‘The study shows that using testosterone replacement therapy to increase testosterone to normal levels in androgen-deficient men doesn’t increase their risk of a serious heart attack or stroke.
‘That was the case even in the highest-risk men – those with known pre-existing heart disease.’
A randomised clinical trial was now needed to clarify the picture, he said.
The study found that after one year, 64 patients who were not taking testosterone supplements suffered a major cardiovascular event. This compared with only 12 who were taking medium doses of testosterone, and nine who were receiving high doses.
The same trend was seen two years later, by which time 125 patients not treated with testosterone, 38 medium-dose patients and 22 high-dose patients had experienced a major event.
Dr Muhlestein added: ‘The FDA’s warning was based on the best clinical information available at the time. As further information, like our research, becomes available – and especially after a large randomised clinical outcomes trial can be accomplished – hopefully the FDA will be able to change its warning.’
The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th annual scientific session in Chicago.
Scientists studied 755 heart patients, who were given supplements of the male hormone either injected or in a gel form
Previous research has found that testosterone replacement treatments may also help over-65s walk quicker and reduce depression.
The findings provide evidence that a ‘male menopause’ may strike men as they age, with dropping levels of testosterone affecting their mood and sexual drive.
Some experts think that as with women, a drop in male sex hormones may explain many of the problems men experience in later life, including fatigue and mood changes.
They insist there is no need for men to suffer as they get older, and should have access to hormone replacement therapy in the same way that women are able to take tablets as they pass the menopause.
But the theory is controversial, with many scientists arguing that a gradual decline in testosterone levels is a natural and healthy part of ageing – and does not require artificial treatments.
The new study, led by scientists in Chicago and Los Angeles, found that treating over-65s with testosterone gels for a year increased their testosterone levels to that expected in a man of 30.
The treatment did not improve energy but did improve mood and depressive symptoms.
Sexual drive, sexual frequency, and the distance they could walk in six minutes also increased.
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