Review| Volume 142, ISSUE 1, P8-14, June 25, 2010

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Cardiovascular disease and androgens: A review

Published:November 18, 2009DOI:


      Globally, cardiovascular disease is the single largest cause of mortality. The differences in pattern of cardiovascular disease between the two genders have not been explained properly. The spotlight has largely been focused on estrogens but no conclusive evidence has proven its role in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Consequently, androgens have attracted significant interest in explaining the gender difference in cardiovascular disease. More studies in last two decades have increased our knowledge about the effects of androgens on cardiovascular disease progression. Evidence for age related fall in testosterone levels in males and increasing cardiovascular events with age had lead to the postulation of idea of ‘andropause or male menopause’. Unfortunately, for the last few decades the androgens have been highlighted as agents of abuse among athletes all over the world. There have been multiple reports of their association with sudden cardiac death and adverse cardiovascular outcomes when abused. Contrastingly, there has been an increasing prescription use of testosterone supplementation in various conditions related to androgen deficiency state and for many other off-label indications. Human observational studies have mostly concluded that men with lower testosterone levels tend to have higher incidence of coronary artery disease. Emerging evidence supports that lower androgen levels predict poor cardiovascular risk profile. Role with supplementation of testosterone for cardiovascular disease is being studied in both primary and secondary prevention stages and its safety being evaluated. This is an appropriate time to review the role of androgens specifically from a cardiovascular standpoint.


      CAD (Coronary artery disease), CVD (Cardiovascular disease), DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), SHBG (Sex hormone binding globulin), IMT (Intima media thickness), FMD (Flow mediated dilatation)


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