Testosterone belongs to the family of hormones called androgens, which when translated from Greek means man-maker, a rather fitting name for this batch of hormones. Testosterone is responsible for deep voice, higher muscle mass, aggressiveness, libido and everything that defines men. Yet testosterone can have detrimental effects on our own health, in particular the heart. The question of the day however is: “Is low T or high T bad for our heart?”
The problems with Testosterone today
First thing we need to note here is that the “normal” level of testosterone is between 270 and 1,070 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dl). The range as you can see is extremely wide. To be more specific normal levels of testosterone are as follows: total testosterone above 300 ng/dL, free testosterone above 5 ng/dL, or bio-available testosterone above 150 ng/dL. Free testosterone travels freely through your blood. Weakly bound testosterone is bound weakly (no pun intended) to the protein albumin. Weakly bound testosterone and free testosterone are together called bio-available testosterone. The level of T is easily determined through a testosterone level test.
Testosterone levels of men in the West have been dropping by 1% since the 80s. A research was conducted in 2007, which measured testosterone levels in 1,532 randomly selected men during three time periods, 1987–89, 1995–97, and 2002–04. The studies show that a 65 year old man in 2002 has, on average, 15% lower testosterone levels than a 65 year old man in 1987. Some researchers attribute this to a drop of smokers and the rise of the obesity epidemic. It is believed that smoking raises T levels, while obesity decreases it. Further studies need to be conducted to determine the link between smoking and high T. The links between obesity and low T on the other hand are evident. Due to this steady drop in testosterone levels many have opted to use testosterone supplements, either natural testosterone boosters or artificial ones. The top testosterone boosters on the market are in ever higher demand. Every year, $1.6 billion is spent on these products. However the effect of both low T and high T are yet to be explored. Thus we will provide a brief outlook of what problems may arise, particularly pertaining to the heart.
Low T is linked to high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. However the direction of this link is unclear. In other words it is not clear if low T is the cause of these problems or if these problems cause low T. Testosterone helps bind insulin and low T may lead to insulin resistance, which may lead to development of diabetes or aggravate existing diabetes. Obesity, in particular the concentration of fat around the waistline, is linked to low T. Metabolic syndrome is the name of the condition, which includes high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar. Men with low T are more likely to develop this syndrome. Each of these health problems can lead to multiple coronary problems and in the long run increases the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Low T also causes atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
A direct link between high T and heart problems is debatable, but many suspect that the link exists. The argument is as follows: men have much more testosterone than women; additionally men develop heart problems a decade before women do. Thus the high T must be the cause of heart problems. There are some well researched effects of high T, which can lead to heart problems. Testosterone stimulates red cell production. An overproduction of red cells can lead to a clot forming in the blood vessels, which in turn can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Additionally high T causes sleep apnea, which is a condition when you temporally stop breathing during your sleep. This is one of the causes of high blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart problems.
Nevertheless, many men opt to use the best testosterone booster in order to raise their T levels. This is understandable considering the negative effects of low T. We have only covered the effect of low T on the heart. Low T is also linked to: erectile dysfunction, decreased sex drive, depression, high cholesterol, osteoporosis etc. Even when you are using the best testosterone boosters on the market, you must bear in mind the negative effect of low T. A study published in PLOS Journal tracked the medical records of 56 000 men who were prescribed T supplements. The study found that for men over 65 a risk of heart attack doubled, once they started using supplements. The same was true for men under 65 with preexisting heart problems. However, supplements had no effect on healthy men under the age of 65.
We must now answer the question posed at the beginning of the article. Is low T or high T bad for your heart? The answer is: both can be bad for your heart. Thus try to keep your T levels within normal parameters. Moderation is the key. Keep this in mind if you opt for testosterone therapy, either by using prescribed medication or natural testosterone boosters.