Heart failure accelerates male ‘menopause’

Heart failure accelerates the aging process and brings on early andropausal syndrome (AS) or male ‘menopause’. According to research presented at the Heart Failure Congress 2013, the main annual meeting of the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology, AS, was four times more common in men with heart failure.

As men age they are likely to suffer from andropausal syndrome (AS), also called ‘menopause’, androgen deficiency in the aging male (ADAM), or late-onset hypogonadism. Men with AS have decreased levels of anabolic hormones, including testosterone. 

The clinical symptoms of AS can be divided into three categories: sexual (erectile dysfunction, problems with libido, decrease in beard growth, feelings of ‘having passed the zenith of life’), psychological (feeling discouraged, depressed, irritable, anxious, nervous), and somato-vegetative (joint and muscle complaints, sweating, need for more sleep, sleep disturbances, weakness, exhaustion).

Heart failure increases with age. It has been noted that deficiencies of anabolic hormones are common in men with systolic heart failure, leading to reduced exercise capacity, depression and poor prognosis. But until now the impact of heart failure on the prevalence of AS and the severity of andropausal symptoms was not been studied.

Professor Ewa A. Jankowska (Wroclaw, Poland) said: “AS leads to poor quality of life. We wanted to discover whether heart failure increases AS and whether additional androgen therapies could improve quality of life in heart failure patients.”

Researchers compared the prevalence of AS and the severity of andropausal symptoms between 232 men with systolic heart failure aged 40-80 years and 362 age-matched healthy peers. The magnitude of andropausal symptoms (psychological, sexual and somato-vegetative) was assessed and diagnosed. 

They found that AS affected almost one-third of men with heart failure, regardless of their age group. The surprising discovery was that in men specifically aged 40-59 years, heart failure led to a four-fold increase in the prevalence of AS (28% vs. 7%) and an increase in the severity of sexual and somato-vegetative andropausal symptoms. This was not seen in older men aged 60-80 years.

The authors concluded that heart failure accelerates the natural process of aging and favours early onset of AS. Professor Jankowska said: “Heart failure leads to anabolic hormone deficiencies at a relatively young age and thereby accelerates male aging and the development of AS. These patients have poor quality of life and need endocrinological and sexual counselling.”

This study adds more weight to preventing heart failure to maintain a good quality of life. By engaging in a healthy lifestyle, preventing heart failures also prevents the early onset of AS.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation outline key behaviours in a healthy lifestyle that may prevent 80 percent of heart failures. 

  • EXERCISE: Physical inactivity results in nearly four quality years of life lost.
  • NUTRITION: Eating a poor diet results in nearly three quality years of life lost.
  • REDUCING STRESS: Experiencing excessive stress results in nearly two years of life lost.
  • BEING SMOKE-FREE: Smoking results in two and half years of life lost.
  • AVOID EXCESSIVE DRINKING: Unhealthy alcohol consumption results in two years of life lost.

Following this advice can help us grow old with vitality.

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