Anabolic Steroids May Weaken the Heart
Study Shows Long-Term Use May Have an Impact on Heart Pumping Function
WebMD News Archive
Impact of Steroids on the Heart continued...
A healthy left ventricle pumps 55% to 70% of the blood that fills the heart.
This measurement is known as ejection fraction.
Ten of the 12 steroid users had ejection fractions of less than 55%, which
has been linked to an increased risk for heart failure and sudden cardiac
Only one of the seven weightlifters with no history of steroid use had a low
The steroid users also showed evidence of impaired diastolic function, which
is the ability of the left ventricle to relax and fill with blood following
Left ventricle relaxation was reduced by almost half among steroid users
compared to nonusers.
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
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