Taking testosterone supplements significantly reduces risk of heart attack and stroke among men with low levels of the hormone. The findings were presented at the European Association of Urology Congress.
Previous research has found a link between testosterone deficiency in men and an increased risk of cardiovascular conditions. Over 100 studies have also shown that testosterone therapy, or supplementing with testosterone, has a positive effect on cardiovascular conditions and risk factors.
For the study, researchers recruited over 800 men from both Germany and Qatar with low testosterone and symptoms including low mood, decreased appetite, and depression. Assessments of each participant's family history, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, and weight showed that they were at significant risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
All in all, 412 of the men chose to take long-term testosterone supplements, whereas the other half chose not to. This allowed the researchers to assess the effects of testosterone supplementation on cardiovascular risk factors over a 10-year timeframe. Nevertheless, all men were encouraged to improve their cardiovascular health via lifestyle changes, including adjusted diets, alcohol consumption, smoking, and exercise.
In the end, the researchers noted that of the 412 men on testosterone therapy, 16 died during the study period, although none suffered from a heart attack or stroke. Meanwhile, of the 393 men not on testosterone supplements, 74 died, 70 had a heart attack, and 59 had a stroke. Even when factors such as age were considered, this discrepancy remained.
The researchers noted that men on testosterone therapy also saw improvements in other aspects of health. These participants also lost more weight, had more lean muscle mass, and more regulated cholesterol levels. Their liver function also improved, their diabetes was better under control, and their blood pressure fell.
The researchers said that their results were surprising, given that all of the men in the study, including those on testosterone therapy, were expected to suffer a heart attack or stroke within five to ten years.
"For those at high risk of heart attack and stroke, who are deficient in testosterone, it's likely that bringing the hormone back to normal levels helps them to maximize the benefits of other steps necessary to improve their overall health." says Omar Aboumarzouk, from the Hamad Medical Corporation in Qatar, "This includes increasing exercise levels, eating healthier food, giving up smoking and reducing alcohol consumption."
"We believe that physicians treating patients with low testosterone, who are at high risk of heart attack or stroke, should consider testosterone therapy as one aspect of their treatment," he added.