All initially underwent arterial blood flow testing as a measure of heart health and function, before being randomly divided into four groups. One group did aerobic and strength exercise two to three times per week while receiving testosterone therapy; a second got testosterone alone; a third was given placebo therapy; and a fourth got placebo therapy with an exercise routine.
The team found that on its own, exercise triggered a rise in testosterone levels, though not to the same extent as the 62% rise in hormone levels seen among men who did undergo testosterone therapy.
But most critically, arterial function shot up by 28% among those who exercised without taking testosterone therapy. That bested the 19% improvement seen among those exercised and took testosterone replacement therapy.
Those men who only received testosterone therapy saw no heart health improvement at all. The researchers concluded that exercise may be preferable over testosterone supplementation to improve heart health in older men.
That thought was echoed by Dr. Robert Eckel, past president of the American Heart Association and immediate past president of medicine and science with the American Diabetes Association.
“This trial was not [designed] to assess safety of testosterone,” he noted, leaving the question of whether taking testosterone replacement therapy might actually pose a heart risk unanswered.
Still, Eckel, a professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Colorado, said he agrees that “in general, testosterone should not be given unless someone is hypogonadal,” referring to a condition in which the sex glands stop producing enough sex hormones.
As to the potential heart health benefits of exercise, Eckel said there are “no surprises here. Exercise is beneficial… [and] should be promoted.”
Yeap and his colleagues reported their findings Feb. 22 in the journal Hypertension.
There’s more on COVID-19 and office building recommendations at U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Bu Yeap, MBBS, PhD, professor, medical school, University of Western Australia, and endocrinologist, department of endocrinology and diabetes, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, and president, Endocrine Society of Australia; Robert Eckel, MD, past president, American Heart Association, immediate past president, medicine and science, American Diabetes Association, and professor emeritus, medicine, division of endocrinology, metabolism and diabetes, and division of cardiology, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; Hypertension, Feb. 22, 2021