By Emily Murray
For patients experiencing heart failure, the latest therapy on the horizon may come as a bit of a surprise.
While it’s not yet recommended that patients try this therapy on their own, preliminary research has suggested that testosterone may actually help improve the quality of life for certain heart patients.
For those with heart failure, breathing and exercising are no longer activities that can be taken for granted. Heart failure is the result of the heart no longer being able to pump blood to all the necessary parts of the body. It is a condition that the American Heart Association estimates exists in about 5.7 million Americans or roughly 2 percent of the population as mentioned in an article on the subject. It is also recognized that heart failure is the number one reason that those over the age of 65 are hospitalized.
The latest findings surrounding potential testosterone therapy were discovered in 4 small studies. The study participants were patients with heart failure, some of whom actually experienced a 50% improvement in their ability to walk and this lasted, for some, over a year. The testosterone appears to have a muscle-strengthening impact that can be particularly beneficial for those with difficulty pumping blood throughout their body.
While we don’t normally hear about recommended testosterone therapy for women, this male hormone appeared to also have a positive impact in female patients. Of course, it is important to mention that 84% of study participants were male which means further affects on women need to be studied to develop a concrete answer when it comes to its efficacy.
So why do researchers believe testosterone appears to help patients?
While testosterone does not directly impact the heart, it does have an impact on skeletal muscles. It is also believed that testosterone actually helps to widen the blood vessels which in turn allows them to carry more blood to the peripheral tissues which could greatly improve life for those experiencing heart failure. Additionally, it is believed that the hormone increases the amount of oxygenated protein in the cells known as hemoglobin.
While this information is no doubt exciting for those who are experiencing heart failure at the moment, researchers have asked people to refrain from experimenting with this type of therapy until larger groups of people have been studied.