Testosterone Boosters Raise Men’s Odds for Clots
From the WebMD Archives
The “low-T” fad caused testosterone prescriptions to soar early in the 21st century, increasing more than 300% between 2001 and 2013, the study authors said in background notes.The fad faded in 2014, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that testosterone therapy increases a man’s risk of heart attack and stroke.Still, more than 1 million U.S. men over 30 received testosterone therapy in 2016, the researchers noted. Evidence suggests it’s still being prescribed to some who don’t suffer hypogonadism, a condition in which the body isn’t producing enough of the male hormone.To further investigate the risk of testosterone treatment, Walker and his team analyzed insurance claims for nearly 40,000 men filed between 2011 and 2017. The investigators focused on men who experienced either deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism occurs when a deep vein clot breaks free and travels into the lungs, blocking some or all of their blood supply.Men without a low-testosterone condition who took the hormone had 2.3 times the risk of developing a deep vein clot within six months, the results showed. Men diagnosed with hypogonadism had 2 times the risk.
The results also indicated that risk might be even greater in middle-aged men taking testosterone to battle aging, although those findings were not statistically significant, Walker said.”In men without hypogonadism, men under 65 almost had a tripling of risk versus men 65 years and older, whose risk was only about 1.5 times greater,” he said.Testosterone poses this risk because it “revs up the consistency of the clotting factors in the blood,” said Dr. Umesh Gidwani, an associate professor of cardiology, critical care and pulmonology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.The hormone increases red blood cell count, which thickens blood and makes it flow more sluggishly, Gidwani said. Testosterone also amps up the action of platelets, the blood cells responsible for forming clots.The study “seems to suggest it would be safer to refrain from testosterone use in patients who do not have hypogonadism,” Gidwani said.Walker agreed, adding that men who must receive testosterone therapy due to hypogonadism should be closely monitored for blood clots.