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Testosterone Therapy May Help Men With Heart Failure
Date:8/24/2009

Injections of male hormone boosted cardiac performance in Italian study

MONDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Injections of the male hormone testosterone increased blood-pumping ability and heart muscle strength in men with heart failure, Italian researchers report.

"From our study, it appears that testosterone supplementation is useful for both patients with low and normal testosterone levels, although the improvements are greater in those with low levels," said Dr. Ferdinando Iellamo, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, and lead author of a report in the Sept. 1 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Use of testosterone for heart failure, the progressive loss of the ability to pump blood throughout the body, has been controversial in some cases. About one of every four men with chronic heart failure has evidence of testosterone deficiency, as production of the hormone declines with age. Few studies of testosterone therapy in heart failure have been done in the United States, but several have been reported in Europe.

The Italian study included 70 elderly men with heart failure, all of whom had low testosterone levels. All received standard heart failure therapy, but half also received injections of 1,000 milligrams of long-acting testosterone at the start, and again at six and 12 weeks. A series of examinations -- electrocardiograms, exercise tests and assessments of muscle strength -- showed improvements in the men who received the hormone treatment but not in those who didn't.

It's not possible to specify the timing and dosage of testosterone therapy for men with heart failure, Iellamo said.

"There is no current guideline," he said. "However, our study indicates that long-acting testosterone at the dose and intervals we employed [to date used only in patients with hypogonadism] is safe and well-tolerated in patients with
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