TUESDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- A small new study is the latest to suggest that testosterone may boost the health of women with heart failure, without causing serious side effects.
Researchers aren't yet ready to recommend that their colleagues start prescribing the hormone to female patients. However, the treatment does hold some promise, especially considering the limits of current medicine when it comes to heart failure, said cardiologist Justin A. Ezekowitz, who wrote a commentary about the findings.
"They're definitely onto something that deserves explanation," said Ezekowitz, an assistant professor at the University of Alberta in Canada. "We have a hit a wall in terms of what we can do for patients with heart failure. We've made a lot of progress, but there are still patients who have symptoms despite the premium blend of medications and fancy devices."
Heart failure is most common in people who are in their 60s, 70s and beyond. Their hearts fail to pump blood properly due to factors such as previous heart attacks or high blood pressure, Ezekowitz said. The patients are often out of breath and become extremely tired, he said. "This is tiredness where they're completely out of gas even after walking a block."
Researchers have previously linked testosterone to better health in elderly men with heart failure. In the new study, researchers randomly assigned 36 women with heart failure to receive normal medical treatment by itself or with skin patches that administered testosterone to their bodies. The results appear in the Oct. 12 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The researchers found that testosterone improved the women's tolerance for exercise and boosted their muscle strength, said study author Dr. Ferdinando Iellamo, a researcher at the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy. All of these factors "play a role in determin
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