Higher Testosterone May Equal Lower Heart Risks
Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology October 05, 2011 Reuters
Elderly men with naturally higher levels of testosterone may be less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those men with lower levels of the hormone, according to a study.
Findings published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology showed that of 2,400 Swedish men in their 70s and 80s, those with the highest testosterone levels were less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke over the next several years than men with the lowest levels.
“What we can say is that elderly men with high testosterone levels are relatively protected against cardiovascular events, and therefore lower testosterone is a marker for increased cardiovascular risk,” said Asa Tivesten, at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden, who led the study.
It’s known that any serious health condition can lower testosterone levels, as can obesity. But in the study, the researchers accounted for a number of health factors — including the men’s weight, blood pressure and any diagnoses of diabetes, heart disease or stroke at the outset. Of 604 men in the bottom quarter for levels of the “male” hormone at the study’s start, 21 percent had a heart attack, severe chest pain or stroke over roughly five years.
That compared with roughly 16 percent of the 606 men who started out with the highest testosterone levels. Even accounting for health factors, men in the highest-testosterone group still showed a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease or stroke compared with the other three-quarters of the study group.
Low testosterone not only affects your desire in the bedroom, but can have deadly consequences
It’s more common than you think. Low testosterone affects both men and women. Both sexes also experience a lack of energy and a decrease in bone density and muscle mass. It is not unusual for women to seek help with a doctor, but it is for men.
Men generally start to lose testosterone after the age of 40, as our bodies produce less and less every year.
About 95 percent of men with low T go untreated. Now, research has found that can have deadly consequences.
“I knew there was something wrong. I just couldn’t put a finger on what it was,” said Jon Yaskowitz of Glendale. He has been struggling with low levels of testosterone for almost 20 years.
Jon experienced typical symptoms like fatigue, sadness and a general lack of energy. “It was getting incredibly difficult to do normal activities that I used to do,” said Jon. Other symptoms include a decrease in physical strength, loss of bone density, decreased sex drive, and erectile dysfunction or ED. ED may be the number one reason why many men don’t seek medical help, according to Dr. Jon Agins, Board-Certified Urologist.
“I believe there is a stigma attached to it,” said Dr. Agins. He said that stigma might discourage men from going to the doctor. Many men see a doctor at the urging of their spouse or girlfriend. Some even accompany the men to the doctor. “We don’t always know how it is affecting us, but our partners do,” said Dr. Agins. “They know us a lot better than we know ourselves.”
Sexual problems induced by low T can lead to a broken heart — literally. “This is a major issue, and it is not just about sex drive and erections,” said Dr. Agins. The newest research shows men with ED are at an increased risk for a fatal heart attack or stroke in just three years from the onset. “Erectile dysfunction is a vascular disease. It is a circulation disorder, so if you are not getting good blood flow into the penis, you’re not going to get good blood flow into your heart, you are not going to get good blood flow to your brain,” said Dr. Agins.
The Testosterone Controversy
In the past, there have been conflicting studies on testosterone therapy. Trials had to be halted after subjects suffered heart attacks. One person died. But new studies on low T therapy reveal those taking testosterone showed great improvement and had a much lower risk of cardiovascular events.
Low T Health Issues
But, low T is linked to several other major health problems. “We want to prevent the complications of low testosterone such as diabetes and obesity and hip fractures and card vascular disease, said Dr. Agins. He said the most common complication is diabetes. Men with low T are four times as likely to get diabetes. Hip fractures also have high numbers. 70 percent of men with the fractures have low T and a 20 percent mortality rate.
Jon Yaskowitz caught it early in life. He is only 41 years old. He’s been taking testosterone for six months. “It was the best thing I ever did.”
He said he feels, “100 percent better. I feel like I am 18, 19 again.” “We are improving the quality of life,” said Dr. Agins. “We have seen relationships break up over these issues, and all they needed was to have somebody diagnose it and treat it.”
You can buy testosterone supplements at most drugs stores. They are not the same as the as prescription medication. Since the level of the hormone is critical, you’re better off under the care of a physician. Dr. Agins said he hasn’t seen any research on testosterone supplements.
Low testosterone hits 40% of men over 45
Forty per cent of men over age 45 suffer from testosterone deficiency but few are actually treated for it, says a Canadian doctor who reviewed guidelines for the condition.
Less than 5 per cent are diagnosed and treated for the condition, Dr. Richard Bebb, an endocrinologist in Vancouver, wrote in the November 2011 issue of the B.C. Medical Journal.
Hypogonadism is the formal term for male menopause or andropause.
After the age of 30, testosterone levels decrease about 1.5 per cent a year.
Symptoms of hypogonadism include:
- Mood changes such as irritability or increased sadness.
- Reduced libido.
- Low energy.
- Decreased muscle bulk.
- Decreased muscle strength.
- Muscle aches.
- Hot flushes.
- Decreased ability to concentrate on tasks.
- Lack of morning erections or less rigid erections.
- Decreased volume of ejaculate.
Physical signs can include more central body fat, osteoporotic fractures, and height loss, Bebb noted.
Confirming a diagnosis involves symptoms of androgen deficiency (low testosterone), blood tests and a positive response to testosterone replacement therapy, he said.
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