How does androgen deprivation therapy, or ADT, affect your heart?
Research has not shown that androgen deprivation therapy definitively causes cardiovascular disease. However, we do know that men who receive hormone therapy have a higher likelihood of developing conditions that increase their chance of cardiovascular disease.
For example, ADT has been shown to:
Having higher levels of blood sugar and difficulty processing blood sugar can cause diabetes. If you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
In men with prostate cancer who already have a buildup of plaque—made up of cholesterol, fatty substances and calcium—in their arteries (atherosclerosis), ADT might increase the chance that patients may suffer from a heart attack.
ADT also can make you have low counts of red blood cells, a condition called anemia, which may stress your heart. If you have anemia, less oxygen goes to your heart muscle.
Reducing testosterone to very low levels also may increase the chance of blood clots forming in your blood vessels, known as deep venous thrombosis.
Cardiovascular disease can cause many different symptoms including:
Cardiovascular disease can also result in a stroke or mini-stroke (also called transient ischemic attack). Symptoms include: trouble speaking, loss of vision, weakness or inability to move part of the body, or abnormal feeling (sensation) in part of the body.
Although the link between ADT and cardiovascular disease has not been proved, if you are on ADT, it's important to take steps to protect your heart. Adopt healthy habits and try to control conditions that are major risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease:
If you already have cardiovascular disease and need androgen deprivation therapy, it is important to continue your treatment and, if needed, take medicines proven to help lower the chances the disease gets worse.