Testosterone Improves Blood Flow to Heart

NEW YORK, Apr 12 (Reuters Health) – Testosterone injections appear to improve blood flow to the heart during exercise in men with heart disease, researchers conclude.

This observed benefit “may be related to a direct coronary-relaxing effect” of testosterone, conclude Dr. Giuseppe Rosano and colleagues at the Istituto H. San Raffaele in Rome, Italy. Their findings are published in the April 6th issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Previous studies have suggested that testosterone “may improve symptoms in patients suffering from angina pectoris (recurrent chest pain),” according to the authors. Animal research has suggested that testosterone encourages the dilation of coronary arteries, thereby increasing blood flow and decreasing blood pressure.

In their latest study, Rosano’s team injected 14 male heart patients with either testosterone or (an inactive) placebo 30 minutes prior to a cardiac exercise ‘stress test.’

They report that “administration of testosterone improves exercise-induced myocardial ischemia,” that is, the problems caused by restricted blood flow to the heart during exertion in patients with heart disease.

The cardiac benefits of testosterone injection were somewhat higher among men with lower-than-average blood levels of the hormone, compared with men with high levels of circulating testosterone.

“‘This effect of testosterone may explain why the hormone has been shown to improve angina pectoris in patients who received hormone replacement,” the research team comments.

The observed “beneficial effect of testosterone may be related to direct coronary vasodilation (artery dilation),” the researchers conclude. They believe more research is necessary to determine whether or not “the hormone has any potential therapeutic implication in men with coronary artery disease.”

Sources: Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association 1999;99:1666-1670.

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