Testosterone replacement therapy and the heart: friend, foe or bystander?
The role of testosterone therapy (TTh) in cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes is still controversial, and it seems will remain inconclusive for the moment. An extensive body of literature has investigated the association of endogenous testosterone and use of TTh with CVD events including several meta-analyses. In some instances, a number of studies reported beneficial effects of TTh on CVD events and in other instances the body of literature reported detrimental effects or no effects at all. Yet, no review article has scrutinized this body of literature using the magnitude of associations and statistical significance reported from this relationship. We critically reviewed the previous and emerging body of literature that investigated the association of endogenous testosterone and use of TTh with CVD events (only fatal and nonfatal). These studies were divided into three groups, “beneficial (friendly use)”, “detrimental (foe)” and “no effects at all (bystander)”, based on their magnitude of associations and statistical significance from original research studies and meta-analyses of epidemiological studies and of randomized controlled trials (RCT’s). In this review article, the studies reporting a significant association of high levels of testosterone with a reduced risk of CVD events in original prospective studies and meta-analyses of cross-sectional and prospective studies seems to be more consistent. However, the number of meta-analyses of RCT’s does not provide a clear picture after we divided it into the beneficial, detrimental or no effects all groups using their magnitudes of association and statistical significance. From this review, we suggest that we need a study or number of studies that have the adequate power, epidemiological, and clinical data to provide a definitive conclusion on whether the effect of TTh on the natural history of CVD is real or not.