The number one killer of men (and women) is heart disease. If there is something you can do to improve your heart health, would you do it? You probably have been lectured on the benefits of staying fit, exercising, eating the right foods, losing weight if you’re overweight. All these are very important in helping to prevent the development of heart disease.

But do you know that raising your testosterone level also help prevent heart disease? Studies have shown that the more free testosterone you have, the better your heart functions.[1] In fact, if you have low testosterone, you have a greater chance of having heart disease. The journal Nature published a study that showed people with heart disease had a significantly lower level of testosterone than healthy people.[2]

In another study, a large number of men, 4,000, were followed for over five years. After analysis of the rates of heart disease, they found that those who had more free testosterone (the testosterone in your body that is working) were 71% less likely to die from heart disease than those who had the least. [3]

It makes sense that testosterone would help improve your heart health. After all, the heart is a muscle and testosterone is a “building” hormone: it builds muscle. Body builders will testify to this amazing attribute of testosterone. So, if it can build the muscle of weight lifter’s arms and legs, why not build the muscles of the heart to make it healthier.

But testosterone does other actions to help decrease heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease, because it affects the heart (cardio) and the arteries of your heart and your body (vascular). The lining of your arteries are lined by a layer of cells called the endothelium. When this lining gets damaged, plaques of lipids (like cholesterol) can form on these cracks, which can become inflamed. This process causes the lining to thicken, resulting in a narrowing of the artery. If narrowed to the point that little blood goes through the artery, the heart tissue fed by the artery suffers from lack of nutrients and oxygen (ischemia) and could ultimately result in a heart attack.

Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent these plaques from forming. Lowering your bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels (lipids in your body) to healthy levels is important. But, raising your testosterone level also seems to help decrease them by improving the function of the endothelium.[4] Studies have shown that testosterone increases blood flow to the heart, which obviously would increase oxygen and nutrients to the heart to make it healthier.[5]

Another action of testosterone on your arteries is that it appears to prevent blood clot formation within the arteries.[6] Clots can form within your arteries and cause blockage. These are especially susceptible to form if a plaque is present on the endothelium of the artery. You could say the plaque can be a catalyst to the formation of the clot. If in the heart, this blockage could cause a heart attack. If in the brain, it could cause a stroke.

In one large study, it was found that testosterone therapy decreased the risk of development of heart attacks by 7 fold and the risk of stroke by 9 fold.[7] The conclusion of this study was that testosterone showed a protective effect against MI and strokes, and that there is no evidence to suggest a worsening of MI or stroke, including those in the study who were at high risk of developing these problems.

Thus, letting your testosterone level drop to very low levels could be a disaster for your heart and your brain. Indeed, boosting your testosterone level to optimal levels has been shown to provide multiple other positive benefits. Muscle strength and tone is improved; body fat decreases; sexual potency improves; your mood, energy, and mental function are better too.

So if you want to reap the benefits of testosterone therapy, have your testosterone level checked. If low, think about boosting it to better healthier levels. Generally, we believe that the benefits of testosterone are achieved once the level is over 500 ng/ml in your blood. If low, you can use testosterone injections, creams or pellets.

 

[1] Jin Q, Lou Y, Chen H, Li T, Bao X, Liu Q, He X. "Lower free testosterone level is correlated with left ventricular diastolic dysfunction in asymptomatic middle-aged men with type 2 diabetes mellitus." Int J Clin Pract. 2014.
[2] "Low testosterone levels are associated with CVD risk." Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011 Oct 21;7(11):632.
[3] "Low testosterone levels are associated with CVD risk." Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011 Oct 21;7(11):632.
[4] Ong PSL, Patrizi G, Chong WCF, Webb CM, Haywar’d CS, Collins P. "Testosterone enhances flow mediated brachial artery reactivity in men with coronary artery disease." Am J Cardiol. 2000. 85:14–17.
[5] Webb CM, McNeill JG, Hayward CS, Zeegler D, Collins P. “Effect of testosterone on coronary vasomotor regulation in men with coronary heart disease.” Circulation. 1999. 100:1690-1693.
[6] Webb CM, McNeill JG, Hayward CS, Zeegler D, Collins P. “Effect of testosterone on coronary vasomotor regulation in men with coronary heart disease.” Circulation. 1999. 100:1690-1693.
[7] Tan RS, Cook K, Reilly WR. Testosterone therapy is not associated with MI or strokes. Abstract 1353. Presented at American Association Clinical Endocrinology 23rd Annual Scientific Meeting May 16th, 2014