Restoring testosterone can reduce rather than increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes in vulnerable older men, research has shown.
Scientists studied 755 heart patients aged between 58 and 78, some of whom were given supplements of the male hormone that was injected or administered in a gel.
Those who received the testosterone therapy were 80% less likely to suffer a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke than those who did not.
This was despite previous research suggesting that testosterone supplements can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Dr Brent Muhlestein, from the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, US, said: “The study shows using replacement therapy to increase testosterone to normal levels in androgen-deficient men doesn’t increase their risk of a serious heart attack or stroke.
“That was the case even in the highest-risk men – those with known pre-existing heart disease.”
Every winter, about 100 people in the US die while shovelling snow. Why?
A study looking at data from 1990 to 2006 by researchers at the US Nationwide Children’s Hospital recorded 1,647 fatalities from cardiac-related injuries associated with shovelling snow. In Canada, these deaths make the news every winter.
Cardiologist Barry Franklin, an expert in the hazardous effects of snow removal, believes the number of deaths could be double that. “I believe we lose hundreds of people each year because of this activity,” says Franklin, director of preventative cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation at William Beaumont Hospital, Michigan.
His team found that when healthy young men shovelled snow, their heart rate and blood pressure increased more than when they exercised on a treadmill. “Combine this with cold air, which causes arteries to constrict and decrease blood supply, you have a perfect storm for a heart attack,” he says.
Snow shovelling is particularly strenuous because it uses arm work, which is more taxing than leg work. Straining to move wet and heavy snow is particularly likely to cause a surge in heart rate and blood pressure, Franklin says.
Many people hold their breath during the hard work, which also puts a strain on the body. In addition, the prime time for snow clearance is between 6am and 10am which is when circadian fluctuations make us more vulnerable to heart attacks.
Franklin considers snow shovelling to be so dangerous that he advises anyone over the age of 55 not to do it.
“People at greatest risk are those who are habitually sedentary with known or suspected coronary disease, who go out once a year to clear snow,” he says, adding that smoking and being overweight drastically increase the risk. If you must do it, push rather than lift the snow, dress in layers, take regular breaks indoors and don’t eat or smoke before shovelling, he advises.
Be aware of the risks. Better to ask neighbours to lend a hand, to be on the safe side.
I was reading an article in a newspaper the other day, about a GP Doctor, who was enjoying his usual cup of coffee and cereal with his wife, one morning somewhere in the UK.
His wife noticed that some cereal was dribbling down his mouth, and it was uncharacteristic of her husband not to clean it up immediately. She also suggested that his speech was a little slurred, but she was brushed off as being ‘silly’. He struggled a little bit with the keyboard on the computer, but again, he thought this could be anything. The Doctor went about his day, including going for a cycle into the local village, to convince himself further that there was nothing wrong with him and that his wife was just making a fuss.
Later on in the day, he sat down with his wife for a coffee and a well earned break, when his wife asked him “what would you do if a patient of yours presented these symptoms in your surgery?”
The Doctor had no answer for her, and he immediately rang for the emergency services, where he was taken off to hospital.
It turned out that he had had a Stroke, a small one, but still a serious event if ignored. His wife had been right to fuss over him, and just because he was a Doctor he thought he knew better. He recovered at home prescribed with a few circulatory drugs and to this day, listens to everything his partner says, even though he is the ‘expert’ in the Community when it comes to heath!
If you or someone you know has any of the following symptoms, don’t dismiss them as ‘old-age’ or one of these things, get yourself checked out by a health professional.
The FAST test helps to spot the three most common symptoms of stroke. But there are other signs that you should always take seriously. These include:
Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.