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Testosterone treatment linked to heart attacks and stroke

A new study suggests caution when prescribing testosterone treatments to older men.

By Ananth Baliga
Testosterone treatment linked to heart attacks and stroke
The intersection of Testosterone and Horsepower, as seen at Autorama 2010. (CC/Ed Schipul)

(UPI) -- Older men taking testosterone treatments had a 29 percent higher risk of death, heart attacks and strokes in a study conducted on men in the Veterans Affairs system.

The study compared 1223 men with an average age of 60.6 who were prescribed testosterone therapy with 7489 men aged on average 63.8 years who were not taking testosterone.

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More than 1 in 4 men using testosterone had a heart attack, stroke or died over a three-year period. Approximately 1 in 5 men not using testosterone experienced such events.

"We do not know if this risk extends to men who are taking testosterone for 'low T syndrome' or younger men taking it for physical enhancement, as there is a lack of long term safety data of testosterone therapy in men," said Anne Cappola, associate professor of medicine at University of Pennsylvania.

In an accompanying editorial for the Journal of the American Medical Association, Cappola said that until there are conclusive trials for the benefits of testosterone therapy in older men both “prescribers and patients should be wary.”

Close to three percent of men are prescribed testosterone treatments. Short-term clinical trials have suggested that it can increase sexual function, strength and well-being. This is the first study to look at the long-term effects of this treatment.

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