Though companies pushing testosterone replacement for men have a way of making it sound like a quick and easy way to recover energy, power, and virility, there are risks. Doctors have been warning about them for years, but the cautions seemed to fall on deaf ears as sales continued to skyrocket. In 2011, a total of 5.3 million prescriptions for the hormone were written in the U.S.
Now, a recent study has caught the attention of all the media markets, and may cause men to pause before asking their doctors for hormones. Researchers from the University of Texas reported that men who take testosterone injections or use testosterone gel may have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Testosterone Replacement Linked to Heart Attack
For the study, researchers examined a large health-care database of over 55,000 medical records for men and compared the incidences of non-fatal heart attack within 90 days following an initial prescription of testosterone therapy, as compared to the rate one year prior to prescription. All participants started taking testosterone between 2008 and 2010.
Results showed that men 65 and older had double the risk of heart attacks in the months after starting the drug. Those who were younger than 65, but who had received a previous diagnosis of heart disease, also had double the risk of a heart attack.
Not the First Study to Connect Testosterone Replacement with Heart Problems
This isn’t the first study to find a link between testosterone replacement therapy and heart problems. Just last November researchers from the University of Texas looked at 9,000 male veterans who had undergone coronary angiography between 2005 and 2011. The men had an average age of 60 and 1,200 started testosterone therapy after their tests.
After about 2.4 years, 26 percent of the men taking testosterone had a heart attack or stroke, or died from any cause, while 20 percent of men who weren’t on testosterone suffered such events. Overall, men who used testosterone therapy had a 30 percent increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or dying, compared with men who didn’t use the therapy.
Researchers warned that the findings raise concerns about the potential safety of this type of hormone therapy for men.
Trial Halted Because of Heart Attacks
In July 2010, the New York Times ran an article on a federally financed trial on testosterone that was ended prematurely because of heart attacks. Researchers were trying to discover if testosterone gel helped build muscle and strength in frail, elderly men, but participants taking it suffered a disproportionate number of heart attacks and other heart problems. Details of the early termination were later published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
FDA Promises to Take a Second Look
On January 31, 2014, as a result of these study outcomes, the FDA stated that it is reviewing the safety of popular testosterone drugs for men. So far they haven’t reached a conclusion, but they are examining the data.
Testosterone was originally prescribed only for men with hypogonadism, a disorder in which the individual actually has a lower than normal level of testosterone, usually because of an injury, infection, or other disorder. But recent aggressive marketing by drug makers has been targeting a broader customer base concerned with the signs of aging.
Men who have taken these drugs and then suffered serious cardiovascular problems may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. Already, testosterone replacement therapy lawsuits are being considered across the country as plaintiffs complain that the companies didn’t do enough to provide adequate warnings about the risks of their products.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.