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15 July 2017

Testosterone levels and anemia in older men

Testosterone levels and anemia in older men

Anemia is a common concern among the elderly; after the age of 50 years, anemia prevalence increases rapidly, especially in men. In community studies, the prevalence of anemia in older men has been reported to range from 11% to 28%. The decline of hemoglobin and development of anemia with age is not part of "normal aging"; it is a sign of health deterioration and disease.

Several studies have suggested that anemia is an independent risk factor for mortality. Men with anemia may be at higher mortality risk than women; in a large-scale investigation of 6880 elderly patients seen in the primary care clinics, even mild anemia without severe comorbidities was associated with nearly double the risk for all-cause mortality in men, but not in women. Anemia also has been shown to pose a greater risk in men with myocardial infarction than in women. Therefore, laboratory investigation of anemia in men older than 50 years is warranted. It is alarming that anemia is rarely acknowledged and investigated among patients.

Here we summarize the results of The Anemia Trial of the Testosterone Trials.

Key Points

  • Testosterone treatment of older men with low testosterone levels and unexplained anemia corrected the anemia more than placebo. This treatment also corrected anemia more than placebo in men who had anemia of known causes, such as iron deficiency.
  • Testosterone deficiency in older men results in decreased hemoglobin levels, which can cause mild anemia.
  • Correcting testosterone deficiency increases hemoglobin levels and tends to correct the anemia, even in the presence of a coexisting cause of anemia (such as iron and/or vitamin B12 deficiencies, chronic inflammation)

Last updated: 2019