I’m back again (!) on the Fox News Channel tomorrow at 11:30am EST. This week’s discussion? A new study revealing that testosterone treatments are linked to heart risks. We’ve all seen the latest “Low-T” ads and billboards, but is this catchy marketing campaign promoting unsafe medications?
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men with low testosterone who took testosterone supplements were 30 percent more likely to die, have a heart attack or stroke after three years of use than those with low hormone levels who did not use testosterone. The risk appears to be similar for all men whether or not they had pre-existing coronary artery disease.
Health care providers in the U.S. write an astonishing 5.3 million prescriptions each year for testosterone supplements. Nearly three percent of men over the age of forty have been prescribed testosterone replacement therapy. If these medications do in fact pose serious health risks, millions of men could be affected. While the study shows only a link between testosterone replacement therapy and not cause, this information is concerning and has significant implications for healthcare providers.
As nurse practitioners, we know patients frequently see new medications marketed and request them by name. But, just because new medications are heavily marketed does not mean they are safe. We must be diligent to prescribe these medications only in cases of medical necessity, not simply because patients request them. For some patients, non-pharmacological therapies for low testosterone such as maintaining a healthy weight and physical activity may be the best option. We must discuss the risk of heart disease versus the benefit of relieving symptoms caused by low testosterone with our patients. It is our responsibility to make sure they are aware of potential risks before taking these potentially harmful medications.
Watch Happening Now Thursday, November 7th at 11:30am EST for more discussion on the risks of testosterone replacement therapy.
What are your thoughts on testosterone replacement therapy? Do you prescribe these medications?