Background: The relationship between cardiovascular (CV) diseases (CVD) and testosterone (T) levels in men has not been completely clarified.
Aim: To evaluate the association between T levels and CV risk in subjects with erectile dysfunction (ED) and to verify whether their body mass index might (BMI) represents a possible confounder in T-related CV stratification.
Material and methods: A consecutive series of 2269 male patients attending the Outpatient Clinic for ED was studied. The assessment of CV risk was evaluated using the engine derived from the Progetto Cuore study.
Results: After adjustment and for BMI and associated morbidities, SHBG-bound and -unbound T levels decreased as a function of CV risk assessed thorough Progetto Cuore risk engine. In addition, a higher prevalence of hypogonadism related symptoms and signs was associated with a higher CV risk. Among factors included in the Progetto Cuore risk engine age, total and HDL cholesterol and diabetes were all significantly associated with CV risk-dependent modification of total and calculated free-T levels. When the relationship between SHBG bound and unbound T and CV risk was evaluated as a function of obesity (BMI>30 kg/m(2)), all the aforementioned associations were confirmed only in non obese patients.
Conclusions: Hypogonadism could be associated either with an increased or reduced CV risk, depending on the characteristics of subjects. Low T observed in obese patients might represent the result of higher CV risk rather than a direct pathogenetic mechanism.