Aurora-led study shows low testosterone drugs do not raise heart, stroke risk

An Aurora Health Care doctor gave a presentation last week in San Diego at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th annual scientific session on his research on the effects of testosterone drugs. The study failed to find a connection between testosterone therapy in men and heart problems, contradicting research that prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate its safety.

In the study led by Dr. Arshad Jahangir, director at the Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani Center of Integrative Research on Cardiovascular Aging at Aurora Health Care, demographic and health data from 7,245 men with low testosterone levels from 2011-2014 were analyzed.

After obtaining data from the electronic record systems of 15 hospitals and 150 clinics, the researchers looked at the combined cardiovascular event rate of heart attack, stroke and death in men with low testosterone who received testosterone therapy and in those who did not.

They found the event rate at three years was low in both the treated group at 5.5 percent and in the untreated group at 6.7 percent, suggesting a potential cardiovascular benefit of testosterone replacement therapy on initial analysis. After adjusting for baseline differences including age, prior heart attack or stroke, cholesterol levels, smoking status and length of follow-up, however, researchers found no difference in cardiovascular event rates between the two groups.

“The reassurance we get from this analysis in the community setting is that testosterone replacement therapy in patients with low serum levels is not causing any harm, even if it is not providing much cardiovascular benefit (in this patient population),” Jahangir said. “In the absence of prospective data, I think studies like ours will help ease anxieties around this treatment and provide some information on which physicians can base their prescribing decisions.”

He also emphasized that given these study results, it is important for physicians to continue to aggressively manage established cardiovascular disease risk factors in patients, as testosterone therapy may not have an impact. An analysis of the effects of testosterone therapy on metabolic parameters and bone fractures is ongoing.

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