Popular testosterone topicals linked to heart attack risk in some men

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Popular testosterone gels and patches increase the risk of heart attack among men under 65 with a history of heart trouble, as well as among men over 65, regardless of whether they have heart problems, according to a new study from UCLA.

It used to be that talk of hormones was limited mostly to women. But these days, conversations about male moodiness, low-energy and diminishing sex drives are filling the airwaves as drug companies promote popular hormone topical treatments to men. 

Low testosterone affects about 40 percent of men older than 45 and increases with age, according to the American Urological Foundation's Urology Care Foundation.  

Testosterone patches and gels are believed to reverse low sex drive and other symptoms brought on by low levels of the hormone.  And that’s made them hugely popular.  

Read the UCLA study here

"There has been a tremendous increase in prescriptions for testosterone therapy," says  Sander Greenland, an epidemiologist and statistician with UCLA. "In 2013...sales of the testosterone gel, Androgel, exceeded sales of Viagra." 

And that concerns Greenland, author of a study published in the Jan. 29, 2014 edition of the online journal PLOS One which suggests that testosterone  prescriptions designed to increase the male hormone levels may also increase the  risk of heart attack in some men. 

Greenland’s study surveyed testosterone use among 55,593 men, more than 48,000 of whom  were younger than 65. It found  a two-fold increase in heart attacks among men younger than 65 with a history of heart disease. It also found the same risk among those older than 65, whether or not they had heart problems.

The takeaway from these findings, Greenland says, is to make sure to discuss with your doctor any potential heart problems you may have before deciding to take testosterone.

 

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