Learn why Renew Youth recommends blood donation during testosterone treatment to protect men’s heart health
Since 1999, Renew Youth has been helping men recover their strength, energy, mental focus, sex drive, and zest for life with testosterone replacement therapy. We’ve reviewed the scientific publications on this topic very carefully to ensure that we have identified and implemented appropriate measures that will make our testosterone treatment safe and effective for our clients. One of these safety measures involves giving blood. Donating blood helps reduce blood viscosity and prevent heart attacks, something which is very important for men who are taking testosterone.
Although many medical professionals seem tightly focused on serum cholesterol as a measure of heart disease risk, blood viscosity is another key marker that should not be ignored. Research has shown that blood viscosity is actually a much more reliable marker than serum cholesterol when it comes to determining risk for heart attacks and strokes.
Blood viscosity is also much easier for individuals to control than serum cholesterol. By simply giving blood on a regular basis, you can lower your systolic blood viscosity by 20 percent and reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 88 percent.
What Is Blood Viscosity?
Blood viscosity refers to blood’s resistance to flow. When blood is thinner and less viscous, it flows more easily. When it is thicker, “stickier”, and more viscous, problems arise. High viscosity blood causes poor circulation, which in turn can lead to heart disease, peripheral artery disease, and congestive heart failure. Other conditions associated with poor circulation include strokes, impotence, male infertility, and diabetic nerve and circulation problems.
The viscosity of blood helps explain why plaque builds up where blood vessels branch, rather than along the straightaways. Just as a river will erode the front bank of an island as the waters rush past it, more viscous blood will damage the walls of a vessel where it forks. Plaque made up of white blood cells, cholesterol, calcium, and other material develops in response to this damage. Over time, plaques can restrict vessels or break off and form clots that may cause heart attacks.
What Factors Affect Blood Viscosity?
Blood is not a simple liquid like water. Instead, it is a mix of liquid and solid components—the solids being blood cells and various proteins. This means that the flow characteristics of blood are more complex than those of water. There are many factors that can change blood viscosity:
Hematocrit: Red blood cells play a huge role in determining how viscous the blood is. The greater the volume of red blood cells compared to the volume of whole blood, the higher the blood viscosity will be. This ratio of red blood cells to whole blood is called hematocrit. For men, hematocrit should be 45 to 52 percent. For women, it should be between 37 and 47 percent. If hematocrit rises above this due to overproduction of red blood cells, blood flow will become restricted.
Temperature: As temperatures drop, blood viscosity increases. This can become a problem in individuals suffering from hypothermia. When body temperature and blood temperature drop, poor circulation will result.
Cell Age: Another factor that can affect the flow of blood is how old the red blood cells are. Older red blood cells are about 30 percent more rigid than new red blood cells and tend to aggregate or clump together 80 percent more. Having a greater proportion of younger cells in the blood leads to reduced blood viscosity.
How Does Giving Blood Help?
Donating blood helps reduce blood viscosity in two ways. First, giving blood simply dilutes the blood you have left, making it thinner and less viscous. Secondly, giving blood removes old red blood cells and stimulates the production of new red blood cells, creating a higher proportion of younger cells in the blood. Younger red blood cells are both more pliable and less “sticky” than older cells. This enables them to travel through smaller capillaries and prevents the formation of clumps that retard circulation and damage vessels and arteries.
It is interesting to note that this process occurs in pre-menopausal women quite naturally. As blood is shed through menstruation, women’s blood viscosity decreases. This may help explain why women have lower heart attack rates than men—at least until menopause, at which point heart attack rates start to increase.
A number of studies have been published by researchers focused on the relationships between blood donation, blood viscosity, and negative vascular events such as heart attacks, stroke, angioplasty, bypass surgery, and nitroglycerin use.
In one study, which was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 1998, researchers examined data collected on 2,862 Finnish men aged 42 to 60 over about nine years. Of the men who had given blood in the two years prior to their first examination, only one (0.7 percent of the study sample) had an acute myocardial infarction during the study period. Among the men who had not given blood, 12.5 percent had an acute myocardial infarction. After adjusting for age and various heart disease risk factors, the researchers found that the men who had given blood had an 88 percent lower risk of heart attack compared to non-blood donors.
Another study from the University of Kansas produced similar results. In this study, which included 3,855 participants, only 9.77 percent of blood donors experienced a vascular event (heart attack, stroke, angioplasty, bypass surgery, or nitroglycerin use) compared to 17.72 percent of non-donors. This translates to non-donors being 81 percent more likely to have a heart attack or other vascular problem than blood donors.
The impact of blood donation on blood viscosity was also investigated in studies published around the same time. Results published in the journal Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation showed that giving blood reduced systolic blood viscosity by 21 percent and diastolic blood viscosity by 32 percent. This was the average result for study participants who gave one unit of blood (about 450mL) every four days and completed a total of four donation sessions.
Hematocrit and Testosterone Treatment
Age-related hormone decline—and especially low testosterone for men—can be very detrimental to health. Men need to have lots of testosterone for their bodies to work properly, which is why Renew Youth’s testosterone replacement therapy can deliver such big improvements for men who are suffering from andropause symptoms like fatigue, memory loss, weight gain, lean muscle loss, low sex drive, ED, etc. However, testosterone replacement must be done with great care in order to ensure men’s health and safety and prevent side effects.
One possible side effect of testosterone replacement is elavated hematocrit. In some men replacing testosterone, this can stimulate the bone marrow to generate more red blood cells, which can lead to a condition called polycythemia (or overproduction of red blood cells). If hematocrit is allowed to rise to beyond safe levels, the flow of the blood through blood vessels can be impeded, and the risk of a vascular event such as heart attack can be increased.
How to Manage Hematocrit During Testosterone Treatment
At Renew Youth, we routinely monitor and manage hematocrit during testosterone treatment to protect men from the detrimental effects of high blood viscosity. There are a variety of strategies that can be used in this effort.
For example, hematocrit is more likely to remain at safe levels if you:
Stop smoking: Tobacco interferes with oxygen flow in the blood. The bone marrow will be forced to produce more red blood cells to compensate, which will push hematocrit up. Quitting smoking will stop this phenomenon.
Keep exercise moderate: When you push your body really hard, it uses more oxygen. It’s best to avoid exercising to exhaustion and instead enjoy physical activity on a moderate and gradual basis. Otherwise, you may end up with increased red blood cell production.
Stay hydrated: Dehydration affects all of your bodily fluids, including blood. With less fluid to dilute the blood, the volume of red blood cells becomes proportionately larger. To keep your hematocrit from rising due to dehydration, drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Avoid caffeinated coffee, tea, and soda, which are diuretics that can actually increase dehydration.
Eat grapefruit: Grapefruit contains naringin, a flavonoid that helps with the natural elimination process for red blood cells. Studies have shown that eating half a grapefruit every day can lower hematocrit.
Watch your iron: Iron is easily stored rather than excreted, so if your diet is high in iron-rich foods like spinach, broccoli, beef, and fish, you may end up with excess iron in your body. Studies have found a relationship between high iron intake and increased risk of cardiovascular events. This may be because the body needs iron to make new red blood cells—and so would need lots of iron to overproduce these cells and raise hematocrit. Or some experts theorize that stored iron in the body can cause the oxidation of cholesterol—a phenomenon that seems to be involved in atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is characterized by the development of fatty deposits on artery walls, which shrink them and cause vascular problems.
Give blood! Given the growing body of research on this topic, it appears that giving blood is perhaps the most effective way to control hematocrit during testosterone treatment.
Get Quality Treatment from Renew Youth
The endocrine system—meaning your hormones—is incredibly complex. Adjusting any one hormone will cause a ripple effect that can affect many other hormones and processes in the body. This means that the very last thing you should ever consider is working with a treatment provider who does nothing by provide testosterone. At Renew Youth, our testosterone treatment always includes measures to adjust and control other hormones, as well as ongoing monitoring of key markers related to your health. This is why we are able to deliver great results without harmful side effects. To learn more about the many safeguards that make our testosterone treatment superior to the rest, contact us today.