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Oct 27, 2016

Low Testosterone is Not an Independent Risk Factor for Stroke, Finds Study

Researchers question whether treating testosterone level improves heart health.

According to a recent study, we should focus on treating cardiovascular risk factors, not testosterone levels, to prevent heart disease in men. The study asserts that low testosterone is not an independent risk factor for stroke.

Published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, this study explored the relationship between testosterone and risk for stroke in men. A wealth of studies have linked low testosterone levels to increased risk for heart disease, heart events and death in men. However, findings have been mixed when it comes to whether treating testosterone improves heart health. Whether testosterone is an independent cardiovascular risk factor, particularly for stroke, has been unclear.

To learn more, researchers analyzed data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which tracks the heart health of U.S. adults in North Carolina, Minnesota, Maryland and Michigan. The study included more than 1,500 healthy men between the ages of 45 and 64, all of who underwent blood tests to assess testosterone levels between 1996 and 1998. A small group of participants also had MRIs to assess brain and vascular function roughly five years later.

After following participants through 2011, researchers found that participants with low testosterone were more likely to be overweight or obese and to have a larger waist circumference than those with higher hormone levels. Low testosterone was also significantly associated with cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

However, after taking into account these factors, there was no significant association between testosterone levels and stroke. After comparing MRI results of 257 men, researchers also found that testosterone had no significant association with brain function.

According to authors, findings provide reassurance that low and even high levels of testosterone are not associated with increased risk of stroke. Findings also confirm that low testosterone is associated with major cardiovascular risk factors like obesity and high cholesterol. As a result, authors argue that we should focus on treating cardiovascular risk factors, rather than raising testosterone, to improve heart health. Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans, and treating cardiovascular risk factors can go a long way in preventing heart events and promoting better health.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How is testosterone associated with heart health?
  • Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone that plays a key role in muscle mass, bone density and sex drive. Many studies suggest that low testosterone levels are associated with increased risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. However, it’s unclear whether hormone therapy helps reduce cardiovascular risk in men with low testosterone.

  • What is stroke?

  • Stroke occurs when there is an interruption of the blood supply to the brain. The two types of stroke include ischemic stroke, where the blood supply to the brain is blocked by a blood clot, and hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when blood vessels rupture and leak blood into the brain. Symptoms of both types of stroke include sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, trouble with vision, loss of balance or coordination, and severe headache with no known cause. It is crucial that you call 911 immediately upon experiencing any of these symptoms.

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