Higher testosterone may raise risk of heart disease in elderly men

Jul 01, 2010

A large U.S. multicenter study shows that older men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease in the future. The results were presented at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

"The study finding contradicts smaller studies that have shown that testosterone levels are not associated with higher rates of cardiovascular disease," said presenting author Kristen Sueoka, MD, a resident physician at the University of California, San Francisco.

"Many in the general public are using testosterone supplements for various medical problems, including low sex drive and , which are not life-threatening. These men may unknowingly be placing themselves at higher risk for cardiovascular disease," she said.

Study participants were age 65 or older and included 697 community-dwelling men who were participating in the National Institutes of Health-funded study, Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS). None of these men were receiving testosterone therapy, according to the study abstract.

All subjects had blood tests to determine their testosterone levels. The investigators then divided the men into quartiles, or four groups, of testosterone range to observe trends in rates of coronary heart disease events. This type of heart disease results from plaque-clogged or narrowed coronary arteries, also called atherosclerosis. A coronary heart disease event included a ; unstable angina, which is chest pain usually due to atherosclerosis and which doctors consider a prelude to a heart attack; or an angioplasty or bypass surgery to clear blocked arteries.

During an average follow-up of nearly 4 years, 100 men, or about 14 percent, had a coronary disease event, in particular, heart attacks, Sueoka said. After the researchers adjusted for other potential contributing risk factors for heart disease, such as elevated cholesterol, they found that higher total relates to an increased risk of coronary disease. Men whose total testosterone was in the highest quartile (greater than or equal to 495 nanograms per deciliter, or ng/dL) had more than twofold the risk of coronary disease compared with men in the lowest quartile (below 308 ng/dL).

Other important measures of testosterone in the body and of a protein that tightly binds with testosterone (sex hormone-binding globulin) also showed a close relationship between testosterone and , Sueoka said.

The investigators did not divide the men by normal or abnormal testosterone levels because the definition of abnormal levels depends on many factors, including increasing age. In fact, says Sueoka, "Men with the highest testosterone could potentially be at risk for heart disease regardless of the definition of "normal" levels."

"One day testosterone measurements may be used to help predict which men are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease," she said. "But we need more studies to confirm that high testosterone is a risk factor for heart disease."

Explore further: How physicians are adapting to payment reform

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Postmenopausal women with higher testosterone levels

Nov 04, 2009

Postmenopausal women who have higher testosterone levels may be at greater risk of heart disease, insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome compared to women with lower testosterone levels, according to a new study accepted ...

Recommended for you

How physicians are adapting to payment reform

16 minutes ago

Private and public healthcare providers in the U.S. are increasingly turning to the "pay-for-performance" model, in which physicians and hospitals are paid if they meet healthcare quality and efficiency targets. ...

Patients at emergency departments regarded as 'symptoms'

1 hour ago

The healthcare work of providing care at Emergency departments is medicalized and result-driven. As a consequence of this, patients are regarded as "symptoms", and are shunted around the department as "production units". ...

India moves to raise age for tobacco purchases to 25

3 hours ago

Health campaigners Wednesday welcomed India's unprecedented plans to raise the age for tobacco purchases to 25 and ban unpackaged cigarette sales, calling them a major step towards stopping nearly one million tobacco-related ...

Americans are smoking less than ever

3 hours ago

The percentage of Americans who are smokers has fallen to an all-time low, now representing just 17.8 percent of the population, a study released Tuesday found.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gunslingor1
not rated yet Jul 01, 2010
Could be that there is something we don't know about yet that is causing both heart attacks and elevated levels of testosterone . i.e. testosterone may not be the cause but a symptom.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.