Taking steroids increases the risk of arterial damage (atherosclerosis), which may eventually lead to heart problems.
Today’s cut throat competition forces us to lead an erratic lifestyle, thereby exposing us to numerous factors that cause heart problems. Eating unhealthy foods and lack of physical activity are the common reasons of heart ailments in present times. However, quite a few people have no idea about certain commonly used medicines that may cause damage to the heart. Studies reveal that taking steroids frequently can cause heart problems.
Steroids and Cardiovascular Issues
As we all know, steroids are hormones that are not only naturally produced in the body, but are also available in supplemental form. Oral corticosteroids like hydrocortisone and prednisolone display anti-inflammatory effect. Medical problems like asthma (inflammation of the airways) and arthritis (inflammation of the joints) improve with the usage of these steroids. They are especially useful to treat severe asthma because steroids provide immediate relief from breathing problems.
Although steroids do alleviate swelling, its side effects when taken in excess doses are a cause of concern. Unknowingly consuming steroids in high doses can be fatal to the heart. Long term use of steroids may raise blood pressure, thereby increasing the risk of heart problems. A study published in the journal ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’ cited how steroid use for prolonged periods of time can negatively affect the heart. The study that was conducted spanning 3 years in between 1993 to 1996 involved thousands of patients taking steroids. Their heart condition was monitored to estimate the risk of heart problems. Of course, all the patients were not taking the same steroid or the dosage. Even the duration of steroid use was different, nevertheless it was not for a short period. All this data was analyzed and researchers found out that intake of steroids in high doses elevates the chances of cardiovascular problems. Taking these steroids in small doses does not mean that there is no risk of heart problems, but it is minimal as compared to those taking high doses of steroids.
Though the study suggests that steroids put a person in the risk zone of cardiovascular problems, it does not indicate that these anti-inflammatory drugs are a primary contributory factor in the development of heart problems. This is because other factors like smoking habits, exercise routine and diet of the people under study were not considered in the research. Hence, saying that only steroids trigger heart problems would be wrong.
Anabolic Steroids and Cardiovascular Health
Anabolic steroids like oxandrolone are drugs that are commonly used to build muscles. These drugs stimulate production of proteins within cells, which helps us to develop well toned muscles. Weightlifters and bodybuilders often take (sometimes excessively) these drugs to increase muscle mass and strength. There is no doubt that these drugs have a positive impact on body muscles but a recent study reveals that use of anabolic steroids can also pose a threat to heart health. To be precise, people taking these steroids on a regular basis elevate their chances of developing heart attacks. A study showed that using these muscle-building drugs cuts down on good cholesterol levels and raises bad cholesterol levels (LDL). Now, it is a known fact that good cholesterol protects heart health and too much of bad cholesterol clogs the arteries and blood vessels that transport blood directly to the heart. The clogged arteries can stop blood circulation to the heart, eventually causing a heart attack. Chances of heart problems were found to be high in all 3 doses of oxandrolone (20 mg, 40 mg and 80 mg). Higher the dosage, more will be the risk of heart problems. Although the subjects in the study were HIV infected patients, the result holds a lot of significance among healthy individuals who are using these steroids to gain muscles. Abusing this drug in a bid to gain muscles fast, can pave the way to cardiac arrest.
On the whole, those wanting to take steroids to treat medical conditions or for gaining muscle strength need to use it carefully after consulting a doctor. Taking it in high doses can do more harm than good, hence one should take only the required dose for a short duration to prevent any adverse side effects.