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Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Use May Up Heart Failure Risk

Weightlifters taking steroids appear to have more left ventricular problems than previously thought

TUESDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Long-term users of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) may have more severe cardiac dysfunction than previously suspected, possibly putting them at higher risk of heart failure, according to research published online April 27 in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Aaron L. Baggish, M.D., of the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from male weightlifters. Twelve were long-term users of AAS, and seven had no exposure but closely resembled the users otherwise. Participants underwent two-dimensional, tissue-Doppler, and speckle-tracking echocardiography.

The researchers found that, although the groups had similar left ventricular (LV) structural parameters, users had lower LV ejection fraction, radial strain, and longitudinal strain. Most (10 of 12) users had LV ejection fractions below the accepted normal limit, and they also had lower diastolic function.

"In summary, data from the present study suggest that AAS-induced LV dysfunction may be greater than previously reported. The reductions in LV systolic function observed in this group of AAS users are of a magnitude shown to increase the risk of heart failure and sudden cardiac death in other populations. Further work is needed to confirm our findings and to determine the extent to which AAS-associated cardiac dysfunction leads to adverse clinical outcomes," the authors conclude.

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