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Chronic Anabolic Steroid Use May Damage Heart and Arteries

In This Article

  • New research, led by Aaron Baggish, MD at Mass General, indicates chronic anabolic-androgenic steroid use may be damaging to the heart and the coronary arteries
  • Researchers conducted an observational study of 140 male weightlifters. 86 of them used anabolic steroids and 54 were non-users
  • They show that long-term use of illicit steroids can reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body, damage the heart muscle’s ability to relax and may also cause atherosclerotic coronary artery disease
  • Compared to non-users, steroid users also had higher blood pressure and a higher prevalence of bad (LDL) cholesterol

A research study out of Massachusetts General Hospital, led by Aaron Baggish, MD, associate director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program, indicates that chronic anabolic-androgenic steroid use may be damaging to the heart and the coronary arteries.

The findings, published in Circulation, show that long-term use of illicit steroids can reduce the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body and damage the heart muscle’s ability to relax. Use may also cause atherosclerotic coronary artery disease.

“There’s a common misconception that steroid abuse is confined to elite and professional athletes,” says Baggish. “Prior work from our group has suggested between 3 to 4 million men in America have used steroids at some point for either improving athletic performance or simply looking better.”

Learn more about Mass General’s Cardiovascular Performance Program

Refer a patient to the Heart Center

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