Cardiovascular System

The use of anabolic/androgenic steroids in supratherapeutic (and often therapeutic) doses can have a number of adverse effects on the cardiovascular system. This may be noticed in several areas including unfavorable alterations in serum cholesterol, a thickening of ventricular walls, increased blood pressure, and changes in vascular reactivity. In an acute sense these drugs are admittedly very safe. The risk of an otherwise healthy person suffering a heart attack from an isolated steroid cycle is extremely remote. The risk of stroke is also extremely low. When these drugs are abused for long periods, however, their adverse effects on the cardiovascular system are given time to accumulate. An increased chance of early death due to heart attack or stroke is, likewise, a valid risk with long-term steroid abuse. In order to better understand this risk, we must look specifically at how anabolic/androgenic steroids affect the cardiovascular system in several key ways.

  • Cholesterol/Lipids
  • Enlarged Heart
  • Heart Muscle Damage
  • Blood Pressure
  • Hematological (Blood Clotting)
  • Hematological (Polycythemia)
  • Homocysteine
  • Vascular Reactivity


Direct links between steroid abuse and individual cases of stroke and heart attack have been difficult to prove. There are a number of things that have made this difficult. For one, cardiovascular disease is very common in men. It also usually takes decades to develop. This makes individual contributing factors (which include many things such as diet, lifestyle, health status, and genetic variables) extremely difficult to isolate. Data concerning the long-term use of steroids in physique- or performance-enhancing doses is also very limited. It would be unethical to conduct a controlled study where participants were given abusive doses of steroids for many years, so the data that is referenced tends to be from case studies. Individual case studies are important, but are usually considered too week to meet the requirements of statistical proof. Still, it would be a mistake to confuse this lack of proven association with proof of nonassociation. The cardiovascular risks of steroid abuse remain well supported by both documented acute changes in cardiovascular markers, and a growing body of case reports of injury or death. There are few medical experts close to the study of these drugs today that would actually deny their risks.

Cardiovascular System
Anabolic/androgenic steroid abuse can produce changes in a number of areas of cardiovascular health that can work together to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, or embolism.

References

Wlliam Llewellyn (2011) - Anabolics

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