Dr. John Day
Dr. Day is a cardiologist specializing in heart rhythm abnormalities at St. Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowships in cardiology and cardiac electrophysiology at Stanford University. He is the former president of the Heart Rhythm Society and the Utah chapter of the American College of Cardiology.
Does Testosterone Increase the Risk of Atrial Fibrillation?
In our best-selling book, The Atrial Fibrillation Cure, we noticed something missing back then – solid info on how testosterone supplements might affect the risk of atrial fibrillation. But fast forward today and we now have new studies hinting that taking testosterone might actually raise the chances of getting Afib. So, in this article, we’re going to discuss why so many men take testosterone, the possible heart-related risks it brings, and what you should think about if you’re dealing with cardiac issues and are considering testosterone therapy.
Why Do So Many Men Take Testosterone?
Numerous medical studies suggest that testosterone plays a pivotal role in various aspects of men’s health. Research indicates that adequate testosterone levels contribute to muscle development, bone density, and overall vitality. Moreover, testosterone is associated with improved muscle strength, sex drive, cognitive functions, including enhanced mood and cognitive performance. Indeed, some have even claimed that testosterone might be the “Fountain of Youth” for aging men. But with all of these positive effects from testosterone, some studies suggested that testosterone may have a dark side when it comes to the heart.
Does Testosterone Supplementation Cause Heart Disease?
Given that studies were unclear on the cardiovascular effects of testosterone supplementation in men, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that manufacturers of testosterone products conduct clinical trials. In response to this FDA mandate, the TRAVERSE Study was just completed and published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.
The TRAVERSE Study
The TRAVERSE Study was a multi-center study involving 5,246 men aged 45 to 80. These men all had symptoms of low testosterone levels below 300 ng/dL and either pre-existing cardiovascular disease or were at a high risk of cardiovascular disease. They were then randomized to receive testosterone supplementation or a placebo and were followed for a mean of 33 months to assess cardiovascular safety.
Findings of the TRAVERSE Study
Below are the key findings of this study:
1. There was no statistical difference between testosterone supplementation and placebo with regards to cardiovascular death, heart attacks or stroke, or requirement for coronary after bypass surgery or coronary stenting.
2. There was no statistical difference in the risk of prostate cancer between the two groups.
2. The risk of developing atrial fibrillation was 45% higher in the testosterone group (p=.02).
3. Twice as many people in the testosterone group had a pulmonary embolus (blood clot traveling to the lungs) when compared to placebo.
4. The risk of kidney damage was 53% higher in the testosterone group (p=.04).
Dr. Day’s Take on the Testosterone AFib Risk
This study, along with other studies, suggest a higher risk of atrial fibrillation linked to testosterone supplementation. Considering that a low testosterone level isn’t an immediate threat to life, the discovery of an increased atrial fibrillation risk is concerning.
For my patients dealing with significant discomfort due to low testosterone symptoms, we might think about trying out testosterone, keeping a close eye on their heart health. Ideally, everyone would have a home ECG device and check their heart’s rhythm daily. But, for some, monitoring at home isn’t possible. In those cases, I may recommend a 30-day heart monitor while starting testosterone to watch out for atrial fibrillation.
The main point is, if testosterone makes their atrial fibrillation worse, I suggest stopping the supplementation. But if it doesn’t make things worse, they can keep using testosterone safely.
The information provided in this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. The content is not a substitute for professional medical expertise, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider regarding any medical concerns, conditions, or treatment options.
About the Photo
The image included in this blog post captures a moment of me skiing alongside my daughter during the Christmas holiday, braving a wind chill temperature of 5 degrees below zero. Despite the bitterly cold weather, our commitment to spending quality time together on the slopes remains unwavering, ensuring that we never miss a skiing day whenever I have time off from work.
Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.