Importance: Controversy exists regarding the safety of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) following recent reports of an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events.
Objective: To investigate the association between TRT and cardiovascular outcomes in men with androgen deficiency.
Design, setting, and participants: A retrospective cohort study was conducted within an integrated health care delivery system. Men at least 40 years old with evidence of androgen deficiency either by a coded diagnosis and/or a morning serum total testosterone level of less than 300 ng/dL were included. The eligibility window was January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2010, with follow-up through December 31, 2012.
Exposures: Any prescribed TRT given by injection, orally, or topically.
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was a composite of cardiovascular end points that included acute myocardial infarction (AMI), coronary revascularization, unstable angina, stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), and sudden cardiac death (SCD). Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models were used to investigate the association between TRT and cardiovascular outcomes. An inverse probability of treatment weight, propensity score methodology, was used to balance baseline characteristics.
Results: The cohorts consisted of 8808 men (19.8%) ever dispensed testosterone (ever-TRT) (mean age, 58.4 years; 1.4% with prior cardiovascular events) and 35 527 men (80.2%) never dispensed testosterone (never-TRT) (mean age, 59.8 years; 2.0% with prior cardiovascular events). Median follow was 3.2 years (interquartile range [IQR], 1.7-6.6 years) in the never-TRT group vs 4.2 (IQR, 2.1-7.8) years in the ever-TRT group. The rates of the composite cardiovascular end point were 23.9 vs 16.9 per 1000 person-years in the never-TRT and ever-TRT groups, respectively. The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for the composite cardiovascular end point in the ever-TRT group was 0.67 (95% CI, 0.62-0.73. Similar results were seen when the outcome was restricted to combined stroke events (stroke and TIA) (HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.62-0.84) and combined cardiac events (AMI, SCD, unstable angina, revascularization procedures) (HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.60-0.72).
Conclusions and relevance: Among men with androgen deficiency, dispensed testosterone prescriptions were associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular outcomes over a median follow-up of 3.4 years.