Men with lower levels of testosterone are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital if they contract coronavirus compared to those with usual levels of the hormone, scientists have said.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine have found that men with a lack of testosterone are 2.4 times more at risk of being hospitalised with COVID-19 than those in normal range.

During the investigation, the team of academics examined the health outcomes of more than 720 men, all of whom had been infected with the coronavirus.

They detected a testosterone deficiency in 116 men. Meanwhile, more than 420 had normal levels. The rest of the participants were on hormone replacement therapy after struggling with their testosterone levels.

Following extensive analysis, the scientists have advised healthcare professionals to focus on treating testosterone deficiencies as this will combat rising COVID-19 rates in hospital.

First author Dr Abhinav Diwan said: “It is very likely that COVID-19 is here to stay. Hospitalisations with COVID-19 are still a problem and will continue to be a problem because the virus keeps evolving new variants that escape immunisation-based immunity.

“Low testosterone is very common; up to a third of men over 30 have it. Our study draws attention to this important risk factor and the need to address it as a strategy to lower hospitalisations.”

Fellow author Dr Sandeep Dhindsa said: “Low testosterone turned out to be a risk factor for hospitalisation from COVID, and treatment of low testosterone helped to negate that risk.

“The risk really takes off below a level of 200 nanograms per deciliter, with the normal range being 300 to 1,000 nanograms per deciliter.”

Dr Dhindsa added: “This is independent of all other risk factors that we looked at: age, obesity or other health conditions. But those people who were on therapy, their risk was normal.”

A lack of testosterone can cause several health complications for men, including erectile dysfunction, concentration problems, depressive thoughts, extreme exhaustion and muscle weakness.

Men with low testosterone levels are also more at risk of developing cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer.

Dr Diwan said: “In the meantime, our study would suggest that it would be prudent to look at testosterone levels, especially in people who have symptoms of low testosterone, and then individualise care.

“If they are at really high risk of cardiovascular events, then the doctor could engage the person in a discussion of the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy, and perhaps lowering the risk of COVID hospitalisation could be on the list of potential benefits.”

The study was published in the journal Jama Network Open.

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