Men’s Heart Health: Low Testosterone and Heart Disease
Cardiovascular disease or heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans. And Canadians. And Brits. And Russians. And Germans. And Australians. And French. And Italians. In fact, it is the number one killer in virtually every Western country.
What does this have to do with testosterone? There is strong evidence suggesting that a deficiency of testosterone plays an important role in the development of heart disease. Still, most cardiologists and primary care physicians don’t think about testosterone when it comes to caring for their patients, even though testosterone and heart health go hand in hand.
When many of us think about testosterone, we think about sex and muscles. Or we think about the abuse in high school, college, and professional sports or abuse by bodybuilders in gyms. Because of this, testosterone has gotten a bit of a bad rap, to say the least.
Unfortunately, many doctors think the same thing when they think about testosterone. Poor testosterone! So here are some facts to arm you with so you can educate your doctor on men’s heart health.
What’s the Relationship Between Testosterone and Heart Disease?
As heart disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD), is the leading cause of death worldwide, we need to better understand what the causes are. While the underlying causes of CVD vary, epidemiological evidence suggests that testosterone plays a role in its development. So let’s explore the relationship between testosterone and heart health, including what we currently know about it, to help us better understand this association.
The Role of Testosterone in the Body
Testosterone is essential for many different aspects of health and body composition. It helps to regulate sex drive, sperm production, fat distribution, and red blood cell production. It also has a role in muscle development and strength. Testosterone levels decline with age, so older men may experience some of the changes that can occur with low testosterone levels, such as fatigue, reduced sex drive, diminished muscle mass and strength, and increased body fat.
Low testosterone levels can also lead to mood changes, such as increased irritability and depression. Luckily, there are treatments available for men who have low testosterone levels. These treatments can help to restore normal testosterone levels and improve overall health and well-being.
The Correlation Between Low Testosterone and Heart Disease
While the exact mechanism behind the link is not yet known, it is thought that low testosterone may increase inflammation and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), both of which are risk factors for heart disease. Additionally, low testosterone has been linked with other risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Understanding how testosterone and heart health correlates will help to guide you through your own personal journey.
What are the Causes of Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a general term used to describe various heart conditions. Some of the most common types of heart disease include coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmia. Each of these conditions has its own unique set of symptoms and requires different treatments. However, heart disease can generally be treated through lifestyle changes (such as diet and exercise), medication, and surgery.
When it comes to the causes of coronary artery disease or CAD, the primary causes are high blood pressure, inflammation, high blood cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. All of these conditions can damage your arteries and increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke. Other factors that can increase your risk for heart disease include smoking, physical inactivity, stress and genetics.
Men’s Heart Health with Age
As men age, they typically experience a decrease in the production of testosterone. Testosterone is a hormone that helps maintain the body’s health, including cells in the heart. It allows the heart to be a strong, efficient muscle. When testosterone levels decrease, this can increase fatty deposits around the heart, which can increase the risk of heart disease.
Additionally, as men age, they are more likely to develop high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are major risk factors for heart disease.
There are several very strong studies suggesting the beneficial role testosterone plays in the prevention of heart disease (references available upon request; see the end of article):
How Restoring Testosterone Levels Improves Men’s Heart Health
- Testosterone is known to help regulate cholesterol levels, thereby keeping the arteries clear and reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke. Additionally, testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to improve blood pressure levels, again reducing the likelihood of cardiovascular events.
- Studies have now shown that men with higher levels of testosterone have a lower incidence of heart disease, and restoring deficient men to youthful levels prevents the worsening of heart disease, results in less chest pain during exercise, and results in better stress-treadmill test performance.
- Testosterone has also been shown to reduce the size of plaque in a person’s arteries.
Low Testosterone Has Been Linked to Blocked Arteries
- Testosterone is believed to help maintain the health of blood vessels and protect them from damage, so when testosterone levels drop, this can increase the risk of atherosclerosis and other heart conditions.
- A recent study of 2500 men showed that those with the lowest levels of testosterone had the greatest degree of blockage in their arteries.
Higher Testosterone Levels are Associated with Lower CVD Risk
- A landmark analysis of the relationship between testosterone and subsequent risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) reviewed over 8000 men from 11 studies. The data analysis revealed that in 10 of 11 studies, higher testosterone levels were associated with lower CVD risk. Men in the upper third for testosterone level had 20% the atherosclerosis risk than men in the lower one-third.
Testosterone Reduces C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
- Testosterone is known to have several effects on the body, one of which is reducing levels of C-Reactive Protein (CRP). CRP is a biomarker for inflammation in blood vessels, and high levels have been linked to numerous health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Research has shown that testosterone can help to reduce CRP levels in the blood, which may, in turn, reduce the risk of these inflammatory diseases.
- One study found that CRP levels were significantly correlated to the total testosterone levels of the test group. These results indicate that improving testosterone levels in aging men can reduce the negative effects of CRP on blood vessels for overall men’s heart health.
Testosterone May Increases Lifespan
- Low levels of testosterone have been linked with an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cognitive decline, and even death. Therefore, it is thought that men with optimal testosterone levels live the longest.
- Recent studies have shown that testosterone replacement therapy can improve many of the health risks in men with low testosterone levels. Furthermore, one study found that testosterone supplementation can actually increase lifespan in men. These findings suggest that testosterone may be a key hormone for maintaining good health and longevity in men.
Increased Testosterone Levels Reduce Obesity in Men
- There are a few ways that increased testosterone levels can reduce obesity in men. For one, testosterone has been shown to increase energy expenditure and help the body burn more calories. Additionally, testosterone can help increase muscle mass (which in turn helps burn more calories) and decrease body fat percentage.
- Recent studies have indeed shown that testosterone optimization helps reduce obesity. Findings from this study were promising as it showed clinical significance that testosterone produces sustained weight loss without gaining it back.
Testosterone Increases Lean Body Mass
- Testosterone is pivotal in increasing lean body mass (muscular weight). For example, testosterone has been shown to stimulate protein synthesis and inhibit protein breakdown in skeletal muscle. Additionally, testosterone receptors have been found in skeletal muscle, indicating that testosterone may directly regulate muscle mass.
- Thus, it is not surprising that numerous studies have shown that testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) leads to an increase in lean body mass and a decrease in fat mass in men with low-normal or suppressed testosterone levels.
Testosterone Raises (HDL) Good Cholesterol
- Testosterone is known to increase “good” cholesterol levels in men. This increase is thought to be due, in part, to the ability of testosterone to reduce the amount of lipoprotein(a) (Lp(a)) in the blood. Lp(a) is a particularly harmful type of cholesterol that is associated with an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
- In addition, testosterone has been found to increase the size and number of HDL (“good”) cholesterol particles. These larger HDL particles are thought to be more effective at removing cholesterol from arteries and delivering it to the liver for elimination from the body. Thus, a higher testosterone level may help reduce a man’s risk for heart disease and stroke.
Testosterone Treatment Shows Decreases in Total Cholesterol and LDL
- Testosterone therapy has been shown to improve the lipid profile in older men with low testosterone and heart disease. In a study of men aged 65 years and older, those treated with testosterone showed significant decreases in total cholesterol and LDL levels and also experienced a reduction in body weight. These positive effects were attributed to the replacement of lost testosterone.
- It’s important to note that not all men will experience these benefits, as testosterone therapy can vary from person to person, depending on their individual physiology. However, for those who do respond well to testosterone treatment, it can be an effective way to improve overall men’s heart health and reduce the risk of age-related health problems.
Why Have Your Testosterone Levels Monitored
There is a higher concentration of testosterone receptors in the heart than in any other organ in the human body. It is absolutely essential for optimal cardiac functions. Responsibly optimizing your levels is key to keeping you functioning at the highest level possible while decreasing your risk for chronic degenerative diseases.
I encourage you to have your hormone levels tested by an Age Management physician. Yes, testosterone optimization will likely help your sex drive and lean muscle development. But it will also most likely improve your cardiovascular health and may decrease your risk of heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, and premature death.
Low testosterone and heart disease have been linked to many men’s health problems. However, many of the causes of heart disease can be reduced or eliminated by restoring testosterone levels to their optimal range.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of low testosterone, it is essential to have your levels checked and discuss treatment options with a healthcare professional. Through regular testing and appropriate treatment, you can improve your overall heart health and protect yourself from the dangers of low testosterone.
For more information or references, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 323-874-9355.