Testosterone and Atherosclerosis: Research Finds Yet Another Health Risk Associated With Low T
Rumors relating cardiovascular health concerns to testosterone continue to swirl in media and marketing in spite of new research trends.
Current and methodologically sound research indicates that low testosterone levels are associated with the dangers of poor cardiovascular health.
This contrasts sharply with Initial research, which prematurely concluded that supplementary testosterone would increase the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.
A study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that men who have chronic low testosterone and Type 2 diabetes have a significantly increased risk of developing atherosclerosis compared to men suffering from diabetes but having normal testosterone levels.
Low testosterone is the variable that would seem to increase the likelihood of developing this serious cardiovascular disease in these subjects.
What Is Atherosclerosis?
Arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis are often assumed to be the same. They’re related conditions that both refer to damaged arteries, the vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. However, there are some differences in these conditions:
- Arteriosclerosis refers to a condition where the walls of your arteries, which are normally elastic, become thick and stiff. This hardening restricts blood flow to your organs and tissues.
- Atherosclerosis is a specific form of arteriosclerosis where the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances (called plaque) on damaged or inflamed interior artery walls causes your arteries to narrow, restricting blood flow.
The organs and tissues connected to the blocked arteries don’t receive enough blood to function properly. As atherosclerosis progresses over time, the smooth lining of the arteries may rupture, spilling cholesterol and plaque into your bloodstream and possibly triggering a deadly heart attack or stroke.
Low Testosterone and Atherosclerosis: The Research
This cross-sectional prospective study examined testosterone levels and key atherosclerotic markers in 115 men below the age of 70 with no history of cardiovascular disease who suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Those markers include:
- Thickening of the layers in the carotid artery
- The presence of atherosclerotic plaques
- Unhealthy endothelial cells that line the heart and blood vessels
The levels of testosterone in each participant’s blood were measured, and more than half of patients with diabetes had co-occurring low testosterone levels.
The men who had both low testosterone and Type 2 diabetes were six times more likely to have increased thickness of the carotid artery and endothelium dysfunction compared to men with normal serum testosterone levels—54 percent of men with low testosterone were found to be at higher risk for vascular disease compared to just 10 percent of the control group with normal testosterone levels.
One of the study’s authors, Javier Mauricio Farias, MD, of the Hospital Universitario Sanatorio Guemes in Buenos Aires, Argentina had the following to say about whether low testosterone causes atherosclerosis:
“We still need to determine whether testosterone is directly involved in the development of atherosclerosis or if it is merely an indicator of advanced disease. This study is a stepping stone to better understanding the risks of cardiovascular events in men who have both low testosterone and Type 2 diabetes.”
Low T Increases Health Risks
While a single study isn’t sufficient to conclude that low testosterone directly causes atherosclerosis or other cardiovascular conditions, the constantly growing body of medical research indicates that chronic, untreated Low T damages your health.
If you suffer from clinically low testosterone (known as hypogonadism), research also shows that restoring and maintaining a healthy hormone balance through Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) can lead to improvements in your overall health and reduce the risks of dangerous conditions associated with chronic untreated Low T.