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Testosterone Gel Could Raise Heart Risks in Frail, Older Men
Date:7/1/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Older men in poor health who use testosterone gel to boost their mobility may raise their odds of high blood pressure or heart attack, new research suggests.

The problems observed were concerning enough to cause the researchers to put an early stop to the study, which is published in the July 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

However, the trial was a small one and volunteers were older men with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other problems, so whether or not these adverse events would affect the larger population of men taking testosterone therapy is still an open question.

Furthermore, the testosterone doses used in this study were higher than often seen in doctors' offices and other trials, the authors noted.

"These results were a caution flag but not a red light about stopping treatment," said Dr. Evan Hadley, director of the division of geriatrics and clinical gerontology at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, which funded the trial. "The men in this study differed from others in testosterone trials because they were older and frailer. Many of them had chronic diseases. We cannot draw broader conclusions in many different populations of men."

Testosterone supplementation remains a controversial therapy.

"Testosterone is currently not approved for the treatment of older men with mobility problems or frailty, even though there is considerable off-label use of testosterone by older men with low testosterone levels," noted senior study author Dr. Shalender Bhasin. "Given the findings of this research study, older patients and their physicians should carefully weigh the risks of testosterone therapy in their treatment decisions."

Testosterone therapy is approved and has been shown to be effective in men with hypogonadism (low testosterone levels), which some have dubbed male menopaus
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