NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For millions of men who have been dragged down by aging there is a drug that claims to improve strength and virility.
However, new life-threatening side effects have raised questions over whether fighting low testosterone is worth the risk.
Life moves slowly for 51-year-old Edward Downes.
“Chronic pain, shortness of breath. I can’t even take out a bag of trash now,” he said.
Downes told CBS 2’s Maurice Dubois that it all started when a doctor prescribed testosterone replacement therapy for Downes who said that he was feeling less energetic, weaker, and more tired as he aged.
“I thought, ‘Hey, I might feel a little more virile and all that too,'” he said.
Two years later, when Downes was in his 40s, he suffered a stroke. His wife Cathy said that it changed him forever.
“I felt like he is 25, 30 years older than what he was because of all he could do before that he can’t do now,” said Cathy Downes.
Men across the country have experienced stroke, heart attack, and death prompting the FDA to investigate a possible link to testosterone treatments.
Stephen Nichols used testosterone replacement therapy for years, even after he had a heart attack.
“He kept prescribing it, I kept taking it,” Nichols said.
However, experts say that circumstances should dictate which patients receive hormone replacement therapy.
“It’s not a superdrug. It needs to be carefully given to the appropriate patient,” cardiologist Dr. Daniel Yadegar explained. “I’m looking at the other cardiovascular risk factors. Is this patient diabetic? Is this patient smoking? Overweight? And try to work on those modifiable risk factors.”
Nichols wants more than just a measured approach to its prescription.
“I want them to stop prescribing it to anybody and everybody,” he said.
Legal experts have called for everything from the placement of warning labels on product packaging to having the product pulled completely.
Men who are taking a testosterone replacement should check with their doctors before making any changes to their drug regimen.
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