Anabolic Steroid Abuse and Dangerous Blood Pressure
According to new research presented at ENDO 2016, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Boston, anabolic androgenic steroid (AAS) abuse is associated with severe increases in blood pressure. “The results provide scientific evidence that anabolic steroids cause systolic blood pressure increase and hypertension that may be associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” states the lead study author Jon Bjarke Rasmussen, MD, doctoral fellow in the Department of Internal Medicine of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark. The researchers found day and night blood pressure values to be considerably higher among the ongoing AAS abusers when compared with both former abusers and non-users. “Anabolic steroids are increasingly used in the broader population, and some studies suggest that approximately 20% of men who do recreational strength training have experience with anabolic steroids,” Rasmussen added.
The research team divided 100 male subjects up to 50 years of age who were taking part in recreational strength training into three study groups: 37 ongoing AAS abusers, 33 former AAS abusers and 30 controls who had never used anabolic steroids. Rasmussen and colleagues measured each individual’s blood pressure using 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure measurements (ABPM) rather than conventional sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff while seated) as it is considered to be a vastly superior method for diagnosing hypertension. They measured the men’s 24-hour ABPM every 20 minutes during the day and every 60 minutes at night. The ongoing abusers’ average day and night blood pressure values were significantly higher, by roughly 8-10 mmHg, when compared with the former abusers and the non-user controls. The researchers considered daytime hypertension to be 135/85 mmHg or higher and nighttime hypertension to be 120/75 mmHg or higher. Nighttime systolic hypertension was more frequent among the ongoing AAS abusers than all the others, while diastolic blood pressure was similar among all the subjects. Additional cardiovascular strain even when at complete rest is a red flag for future cardiovascular trouble. Steroid use has long been associated with central hypertrophy of the heart and valve issues. Whereas many men (and women) worry about liver problems with steroids it is more common for the cardiovascular system to become a life threatening problem.
“Hopefully, our findings will contribute to increasing the awareness of the cardiovascular risk associated with anabolic steroid abuse and to the development of prevention strategies,” Dr. Rasmussen said. The authors recommend further research to explore the various associations between AAS abuse and increased cardiovascular disease risk. For those who may not fully realize the potential danger of significant increases in blood pressure refer to the adjacent figure which details a few health complications related to hypertension. And remember, hypertension and cardiovascular issues are simply one problem potentially caused by AAS abuse - as compounds commonly disseminated in local gyms can also have negative impacts on the consumer’s psychological well-being, physical appearance (acne, greasy skin, hair loss, gynomastia etc.), visceral organ health (liver), and reproductive function.