There are several forms of low testosterone treatment available. Each of them typically work in the same way, by releasing steady amounts of the hormone into the blood stream over an extended period of time. Initially, doctors believed that hormone therapy for this condition was safe and highly efficacious, producing only minor side effects in most patients. After further review, though, researchers have found more serious complications associated with the therapy, some of them possibly fatal. In light of this research, the FDA released a safety alert regarding the procedure in January and will review it for further safety risks.
HOW IS LOW TESTOSTERONE TREATMENT NORMALLY ADMINISTERED?
This form of hormone therapy can be administered in a number of ways, though skin patches and gels are the most popular. These are placed directly on the skin, where the hormone is readily absorbed. Once absorbed, it is taken into the bloodstream by the body. Some doctors opt to place a mouth patch, usually along the top of the mouth around the incisor. In rare cases, patients may receive hormone injections or implants, both of which deliver the hormone directly into the blood.
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH LOW TESTOSTERONE TREATMENT?
Many patients will experience some itching or a rash, but some will suffer from much more serious conditions that can threaten a patient’s life. Sleep apnea and prostate cancer can both be caused by hormone therapy, so doctors usually recommend thorough screening for cancer before beginning the procedure. Sleep apnea can cause lasting health conditions if it is not treated right away, including heart arrhythmia or withering fatigue.
Most of the serious dangers associated with this form of hormone therapy are associated with heart problems. The presence of the hormone will encourage erythrocytosis, or elevated red blood cell counts. This will effectively thicken the blood and increase the chances that it will clot and result in heart failure.
Recent research into the hormone therapy has also uncovered an increased risk of congestive heart failure. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) followed roughly 8,700 men who had experienced and survived previous heart problems that were also suffering from low concentrations of the hormone. About 20 percent were administered hormone supplements, and when compared to the control group, researchers found that there was a 30 percent increased chance of experiencing additional serious heart problems. In fact, 26 percent of the men who received the procedure suffered another heart attack or stroke within three years of starting the procedure. Another study published in PLOS ONE in January also confirmed the danger, finding that patients 65 years old and older were twice as likely to suffer from serious cardiac events if they received the procedure. Patients under 65 who were considered to be at risk of cardiac events were three times as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke if they received the hormone therapy.
Those considering this form of hormone therapy should keep the risks in mind before beginning the procedure. Anyone who has received the therapy and suffered from severe side effects should consider speaking to a drug injury attorney to discuss their rights. Compensation, resulting from a successful case can be used to pay off mounting medical costs, and help if the victim can no longer work.