Over the past few years, radio and television stations alike have become inundated with advertisements for male testosterone replacement therapy. This treatment, commonly referred to a “Low T Therapy,” is most commonly prescribed to middle-aged and older men as a means of combating the natural decline in testosterone. Properly applied, “Low T” therapy can help build/maintain muscle mass, strengthen bone density, and improve sexual performance.
In the never-ending fight against Father Time, more and more men have turned to low testosterone (“Low T”) therapy as a means of mitigating the effects of aging. Since 2001, the number of testosterone prescriptions dispensed in the United States has tripled, with sales in 2012 estimated at $2 billion. With increased prevalence has come increased methods of administration. Most Low T prescriptions can now be administered at home, as the drug is available in gels, creams, patches, and injections.
Unfortunately, as with any prescription medication, there are a number of risks associated with Low T treatment, many of which are incredibly severe. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Low T therapy increases risk of stroke, heart attack, and death by 30% for men over 65 years old. A subsequent study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found these risks to be even higher. Among men 65 and older, the risk of heart attacked increased an astounding 219% within the first 90 days of receiving Low T therapy. When the patients had an existing heart condition, the risk of heart attack was tripled—even among younger males.
Despite these enormous risks, the FDA has yet to mandate any cardiovascular warnings for prescription testosterone treatments. This could soon change, however, as the agency has begun investigating the potential links between Low T therapy and these potentially fatal side effects.
As is evident from this information, Low T therapy is not to be taken lightly. Despite its aggressive marketing, testosterone replacement prescriptions are not intended for everyone. While the effects of aging can certainly be frustrating, be sure to evaluate all of your options before opting to begin treatment for Low T. Failure to do so could have potentially devastating side effects.