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Cardiological Health Dangers of Steroids

Doctorpedia Editorial Team Doctorpedia Editorial Team April 6, 2020
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

Steroids are a tempting alternative for many athletes, from major leagues on down. A quick jab with a needle every so often, and you can outperform anyone on your level–and sometimes above it as well. There is no denying that steroids can let you power through a lot more than usual, and that is enough to make a lot of people break the law by using them. 

 

Although steroids are both generally illegal and proven to be addictive, getting hooked or caught is far from the only side effect of steroid use. They don’t have as pronounced an effect on behavior as other drugs, steroids use has serious repercussions on your body’s systems as well as your rights and freedoms.

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Coronary Artery Disease Introduction

Coronary Artery Disease Introduction

Though stricter regulations have made it harder to gather new data on the subject, a study of the first generation of steroid users has revealed concrete links between anabolic steroid use and excess blood pressure, heightened cholesterol, and risk of coronary artery disease. This stems from the stimulation of excess testosterone, which shifts the metabolism and causes the heart tissues to overextend themselves. 

 

These effects are by no means limited to illicit drug users. On rare occasions, steroids can be taken legally by prescription, but those who use steroids legally face the same statistical likelihood of sustaining either cardiological disease or failure as they aged as those who used steroids illegally. Between three to four million residents of the United States alone are given these medications a year, creating long-term concerns about national heart health.

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Heart Attack Prevention

Heart Attack Prevention

Another side effect of steroid use that has cardiologists worried is their tendency to stimulate plaque growth and suppress the body’s ability to effectively remove plaque from blood vessels. Although the exact chemical cause is still being researched, evidence points towards steroid use suppressing the body’s processing of cholesterol, and the resultant hormonal imbalance that prevents plaque dissolving into the bloodstream. 

 

As the first generation that would have been old enough to use steroids ages, researchers are becoming increasingly worried that the effects mentioned above–especially for those that made steroids a habit–may well be irreversible. A growing body of evidence suggests that the weakened heart tissues and excess arterial blockages will not disappear with time, but rather exacerbate the other infirmities of old age.

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AFib Risk Factors

AFib Risk Factors

Though there may be no reversing the process, there are some things that can be done to mitigate the effects of steroid use on your heart. Select a diet and exercise routine that strengthens cardio muscles without overtaxing them, and avoid unhealthy choices like high-cholesterol foods and little physical activity. 

 

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Steroids should be refused if offered without a legitimate perscription. Steroids should be used exclusiveley under qualified medical supervision, with a careful plan of how to monitor progress and mitigate side effects.

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