Low testosterone concentrations in men contribute to the gender gap in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality

Robin Haring, Ulrich John, Henry Völzke, Matthias Nauck, Marcus Dörr, Stephan B. Felix, Henri Wallaschofski

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Background: Across the industrialized world, men experience an earlier onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a life expectancy 5 to 10 years shorter than women. Low total testosterone (TT) concentrations in men have been suggested as a novel CVD risk factor, but its contribution to this gender gap is less well studied. Methods: We used data of 4152 individuals (2113 women and 2039 men) aged 20 to 79 years from the longitudinal population-based cohort Study of Health in Pomerania, Germany. Multivariable Poisson and Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to investigate the risk of incident cardiovascular morbidity (5-year examination follow-up), as well as all-cause and CVD mortality (10-year follow-up) between men and women. Additionally, the added risk attributable to low TT in men (<10th percentile) was assessed. Results: Compared with women, men were uniformly at higher risk of incident cardiovascular morbidity, including overweight, hypertension, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Men were also at increased all-cause mortality (hazard ratio = 2.05; 95% CI, 1.61-2.60) and 10-year CVD risk compared with women. In subgroup analyses, men with low TT showed the highest 10-year CVD and mortality risk compared with both men with higher TT and women. TT was also negatively associated with cardiovascular risk as defined by the Framingham risk score (P < 0.001), after multivariable adjustment. Conclusions: Analyzing a large population-based sample, we observed that men have a generally higher risk of incident cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, men with low TT concentrations were identified as high-risk individuals with regard to 10-year CVD and mortality risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-568
Number of pages12
JournalGender Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • cardiovascular disease
  • epidemiology
  • gender gap
  • mortality
  • testosterone

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