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Anabolic Steroids May Weaken the Heart

Study Shows Long-Term Use May Have an Impact on Heart Pumping Function

Doctors Should Ask About Steroid Use

The study appears in the latest issue of the American Heart Association journal Circulation:  Heart Failure.

It was originally intended as a pilot study, but the findings were so striking the researchers decided they needed to be published.

It is not clear if the impact of long-term steroid use on the heart is reversible when the drugs are stopped, Baggish says.

"The hope is this will make physicians aware than an important cause of left ventricular dysfunction in young people who are otherwise healthy may be anabolic steroid use," he says. "Doctors need to ask their patients if they use steroids."

San Francisco cardiologist Ann F. Bolger, MD, says larger studies are needed to confirm the findings.

But she agrees that anabolic steroid use needs to be on the radar of clinicians who are evaluating their patients' heart disease risk.

Bolger is a professor of clinical medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and she is a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.

"This is a wake-up call to practitioners to ask about steroid use," she says. "We would never dream of not asking if a patient smokes or if they have high blood pressure or diabetes. But I'm guessing very few ask about steroid use."

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