Archive for the ‘myocardial infarction’ Category

Testosterone and Heart Disease – Facts & Caveats

January 30, 2014

I have received numerous calls from men who have symptoms of low testosterone, a documented decrease in their serum testosterone level, and who are receiving testosterone replacement therapy regarding a study that recently appeared in PLOS One.*

Let’s look at some facts. The human body is always trying to achieve homeostasis which is defined as “the ability or tendency of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes.” What does this mean? It means that the body is always trying to stay normal without deviations from the norm. For example, if a man drinks too much water, the kidneys will increase the excretion of water. If a man is dehydrated, the kidneys will try and conserve water to prevent the problems associated with dehydration. If a man has diabetes, the doctor will recommend a treatment to lower the blood sugar. If a man has high blood pressure, the doctor will recommend dietary changes, exercise, and perhaps medication to lower the blood pressure. If a man has anemia or a low blood count because of iron deficiency, the doctor will prescribe iron supplements. If a man has a deficiency in vitamin D, the doctor will recommend increasing the consumption of this necessary vitamin. These actions are what we do every day; we attempt to achieve a normal equilibrium in the body as this is the best way to restore and maintain health.

This same reasoning applies to men who are deficient in testosterone. Testosterone is a necessary hormone produced in the testicles that is responsible for a man’s sex drive, muscle mass, energy level, bone strength, and even a man’s mood which may cause depression if the hormone is low and not returned to normal. The unstudied/published issue is what is the target value? Most experts feel that there is no absolute “correct” value, but rather treatment is targeted at relief of symptoms.

There are more than 13 million men in the United States who reportedly suffer from testosterone deficiency. For men who receive treatment, they usually report significant improvement in their symptoms. There are many conflicting reports about testosterone and heart disease. There are even studies that support that low testosterone increases the risk of heart disease and that treating the deficiency with hormone replacement therapy may be protective of heart disease.

The study recently reported a study of the risk of acute non-fatal myocardial infarction (MI) following an initial TT prescription (N = 55,593) in a large health-care database. We compared the incidence rate of MI in the 90 days following the initial prescription (post-prescription interval) with the rate in the one year prior to the initial prescription (pre-prescription interval) (post/pre).
The results of this study in all subjects revealed the rate ratio (RR) for TT prescription was 1.36. In men aged 65 years and older, the RR was 2.19 for TT prescription. The RR for TT prescription increased with age from 0.95 for men under age 55 years to 3.43 for those aged ≥75 years. In men under age 65 years, excess risk was confined to those with a prior history of heart disease.
The study summary stated that in older men, and in younger men with pre-existing diagnosed heart disease, the risk of MI following initiation of TT prescription is substantially increased.

Some comments about the study:

No follow-up or research was done on whether or not the men on testosterone therapy achieved therapeutic levels or if they stayed on treatment. It is not accurate to assume that all men treated had their testosterone levels elevated by therapy.

There is no documentation as to whether or not Endocrine Association guidelines were followed, including morning testosterone level assessments and repeating the test at least once.

In closing, a larger study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that among male veterans over 40, those on testosterone had lower rates of death than those that did not. This certainly makes sense, since hypogonadism is associated with metabolic syndrome, which is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

Finally, the International Consultation in Sexual Medicine (J Sex Med 2010;7:1608) concluded that:
• Low endogenous testosterone levels correlate with an increased risk for adverse cardiovascular events
• High endogenous testosterone levels appear to be beneficially associated with decrease mortality due to all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer
• Testosterone supplementation in men is relatively safe in terms of cardiovascular health
• Testosterone use in men with low testosterone leads to inconsequential changes in blood pressure, glycemic control and all lipid fractions.
Bottom Line: Low testosterone levels are associated with increased atherosclerosis. Most studies confirm that administration of testosterone to men has neutral effects on cardiovascular risk factors and cardiac events. For men with a history of heart disease, a careful discussion between the doctor and patient should take place.
*http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0085805?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+plosone%2FPLoSONE+(PLOS+ONE+Alerts%3A+New+Articles)

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Take Two (Aspirins) “At Night” And You Won’t Need To Call Me In the Morning

November 22, 2013

Take Two “At Night” And You Won’t Need To Call Me In the Morning

For several decades doctors have been prescribing low dose aspirin as means to protect against heart disease. Most men, including myself, take the aspirin in the morning. The researchers wanted to see if taking aspirin at night could better thin a person’s blood and potentially lower their heart attack risks.
Since the 1980s, it’s been known that cardiovascular events happen more often in the morning. Morning hours are a peak period of activity for platelets, blood cells that aid in clotting, he said. Doctors suspect that might have a hand in the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in the morning.
Aspirin reduces the activity of platelets, and thus reduces the chance that those platelets will clot in the bloodstream and cause a heart attack or stroke, according to the findings.

Until now most doctors didn’t feel that timing of the dose, morning or evening, would matter. That’s because aspirin has a long-lasting effect on platelets, helping thin the blood for days after it is taken.
That’s why, prior to surgery, patients are told to hold off on aspirin for five to seven days, and why it continues to thin your blood even when you miss a dose.

But the Dutch researchers found that taking aspirin at bedtime reduced platelet activity more than taking it in the morning, apparently because it headed off the body’s normal morning surge in platelet activity.
The team also found that people who took aspirin at bedtime did not suffer any more stomach upset or other side effects than people who took it in the morning,.

Cardiologists who have reviewed this report suggest that until larger follow-up studies take place, people prescribed aspirin for heart problems should continue to take it whenever in the day they like.

Bottom Line: Taking baby aspirin has an affect on blood clotting mechanism and prevents heart attacks and strokes. Since there is no disadvantage to taking the medicine at night, I plan to use this medication before going to bed. If you have any questions about this recommendation, ask your doctor

Testosterone And Heart Disease – Facts and Caveats

November 6, 2013

Like most urologists, endocrinologists, and cardiologists, I have received numerous calls from men who have symptoms of low testosterone, documented decrease in their blood testosterone level, and who are receiving testosterone replacement therapy about a study that appeared in a reputable medical journal that treatment with testosterone increases the risk of heart disease. (JAMA. 2013;310(17):1829-1836. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280386).

Let’s look at some facts. The human body is always trying to achieve homeostasis which is defined as “The ability or tendency of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes.” What does this mean? It means that the body is always trying to stay normal without deviations from normal. For example, if a man drinks too much water, the kidneys will increase the excretion of water. If a man is dehydrated, the kidneys will try and conserve water to prevent the problems associated with dehydration. If a man has diabetes, the doctor will recommend a treatment to lower the blood sugar. If a man has high blood pressure, the doctor will recommend dietary changes, exercise, and perhaps medication to lower the blood pressure. If a man has anemia or a low blood count because of iron deficiency, the doctor will prescribe iron supplements. If a man has a deficiency in vitamin D, then the doctor will recommend increase the consumption of this necessary vitamin. These actions are what doctors do every day; they attempt to achieve a normal equilibrium in the body as this is the best way to restore and maintain health.

This same reasoning applies to men who are deficient in testosterone. Testosterone is a necessary hormone produced in the testicles that is responsible for a man’s sex drive, muscle mass, energy level, bone strength, and even a man’s mood which may cause depression if the hormone is low and not returned to normal.

There are more than 13 million men in the United States who suffer from testosterone deficiency. For men who receive treatment, they usually report significant improvement in their symptoms. There are many conflicting reports about testosterone and heart disease. There are even studies that support that low testosterone increases the risk of heart disease and that treating the deficiency with hormone replacement therapy may be protective of heart disease.

I would like to list several comments about the study that was reported in the recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Of nearly 7,500 guys who did not get extra T, about 1 in 5 had bad cardiovascular outcomes, including stroke, heart attack or death. In the more than 1,200 men who got testosterone, nearly 1 in 4 had those terrible problems, an increased risk of nearly 30 percent. A truly scientific study has similar number of study patients in each group, not 7500 in the control group and 1200 in the experimental group.
The researchers concluded that taking testosterone came with an increased risk of an adverse outcome. If a statistician would add up the actual reported events in the paper for each group and divide by the numbers of men in each group. What you will find is that the absolute risk of events (death, heart attack, or a stroke) was 10% in men treated with T and 21% in men not treated. That’s right- the risk was REDUCED BY HALF in men treated with T. So a closer scrutiny needs to be done before conclusions can be made and distributed to the media.
This is obviously the opposite of what the authors reported. They come up with absolute risk rates that are not explained by any numbers in their paper. They used a complex statistical analysis to get to their conclusions without showing the numbers it was based on.

That’s not the whole story, though. Dr. Anne Cappola of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania wrote in an accompanying editorial: “The most important question is the generalizing the results of this study to the broader population of men taking testosterone ….” The take home message is not possible to generalize from this study to the entire population of men some of whom may have a low testosterone level.
That’s a very big caveat: By definition, all the men in the study were older than 60 and all had heart problems. It’s still not clear whether those same risks apply to younger, healthier guys.
“These were sick, older veterans,” Dr. Michael Ho, a cardiologist with the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System who helped direct the study, said in an interview. Many were obese, had diabetes, and other ailments, he said. Obese men with diabetes and other co-morbid conditions are certainly at risk for heart disease, stroke, and even death.

Bottom Line: So what is a man who has low testosterone to do? I would suggest that they have a discussion with their doctor. If they have symptoms of low testosterone, and a documented level of low testosterone blood test, then the doctor and the patient have to weight the risks of testosterone replacement therapy versus the benefits. Certainly if the benefits outweigh the risks and the risks are composed of an older man with heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses, then raising the testosterone level may not be in his best interest.

After a Heart Attack: Nine Important Steps to Follow

November 25, 2011

Heart disease is one of the most common conditions affecting middle age and older men and women. What you do after you have a heart attack (myocardial infarction) is important to your recovery and to your survival.
If you’ve just had a heart attack, how do you know whether you’re getting the best possible care? A new set of clinical performance measures can tell you whether your in-hospital treatment is on track. The measures, which were developed by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, are designed to help physicians provide optimal care for heart attack patients by outlining the key therapies that define high-quality hospital care.
• Heart Attack Step 1. You should receive aspirin when you arrive at the hospital. Studies show that aspirin reduces the risk of dying after a heart attack.
• Heart Attack Step 2. The hospital should provide clot-busting medication or angioplasty quickly. Prompt treatment is essential after a heart attack to reduce the risk of death. If you’re a candidate for clot-busting medication, you should receive it within 30 minutes of arrival at the hospital. Angioplasty with or without stenting should be done within 90 minutes of arrival.
• Heart Attack Step 3. While you’re in the hospital, you should receive a test that evaluates your heart’s pumping ability. Doctors will administer an echocardiogram, radionuclide angiogram or left ventriculogram to evaluate your heart’s left ventricular systolic function, or pumping ability.
• Heart Attack Step 4. Within 24 hours of admission, doctors should measure your total, LDL and HDL cholesterol levels as well as your triglyceride level. The results of this test will help determine your risk of a second heart attack and how aggressive your lipid-lowering therapy and dietary modifications need to be.
• Heart Attack Step 5. You should leave the hospital with prescriptions for a beta-blocker and a statin and advice to take a daily aspirin. These drugs reduce the risk of death and a second heart attack. A statin will be prescribed even if your LDL cholesterol is below 100 mg/dL.
• Heart Attack Step 6. If your heart’s pumping ability is reduced, you should also receive on discharge a prescription for an ACE inhibitor or angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB).
• Heart Attack Step 7. If you received clot-busting medication after your heart attack, you should also receive a prescription for the antiplatelet drug clopidogrel (Plavix) when leaving the hospital. Adding Plavix to a daily aspirin further reduces the risk of heart attack in individuals treated with clot-busting medication after a heart attack.
• Heart Attack Step 8. You should receive a referral to a cardiac rehabilitation program or information about a clinical exercise program. These programs offer supervised exercise in addition to counseling on lifestyle measures, medication use and psychological issues. Make sure to follow through with your referral to cardiac rehab.
• Heart Attack Step 9. If you are a smoker, you should receive advice on smoking cessation while in the hospital. Quitting smoking is an essential part of recovering from a heart attack and has important long-term health benefits, including reducing your risk of a second heart attack.

This was excerpted from Johns Hopkins Medical Report: https://mail.google.com/mail/?hl=en&shva=1#inbox/133da74a2625336a