Can steroids cause Heart Disease?
Yes, anabolic steroids are not quite right for the heart. Thus anyone who has decided using anabolic steroids must take extra care of this precious organ. After all, we live only as long as heart beats. It means that while on steroids, high importance should be given to cardio workouts, and overall cardio care and one should go through a medical checkup from time to time.
Heart is a mighty and muscular organ that works non-stop, it has to pump blood through the blood vessels that have a combined length of more than 100, 000 km, so admittedly not an easy task to do. When you take steroids, you gain muscles, retain water, and thus put extra pressure on the heart, and it may not be ready for that. Moreover, some research indicates that too many steroids may have a direct negative impact on the heart muscles.
Why does heart weaken with steroids?
First and foremost, researchers think that it happens due to some direct action of steroids on heart, though they do not fully understand the underlying mechanism. However, it seems that though steroids are used for building muscles, they do not have a similar kind of positive impact on the heart muscles. Thus one research showed that those who used steroids have lower cardiac output or pumping capacity, in comparison to those who did not take steroids. The analysis also indicated that anabolic steroids make it hard for heart muscles to relax and it could be the reason for reduced heart volume.
While pumping the blood, heart goes through two phases called systole and diastole. During diastole heart muscles relax and let the blood in, it means that heart dilates during the diastolic phase. However, steroids do not allow the heart muscles relax well, thus reducing the amount of blood that goes into the heart. It leads to lower cardiac output and increased risk of cardiac failure.
There are other reasons for higher heart risk too. When you take steroids and exercise a lot, your muscles and body mass grows. However, the heart often fails to keep up with the increased workload. Higher body weight means more blood vessels. Steroids also increase blood volume due to water retention, which increases blood pressure, and workload on the heart. All this is not good for heart health.
When workload increases, heart reacts my strengthening itself. It results in thickening of heart muscles. That may sound good, but it is really not that good. Thicker heart muscles work slower; they are at higher risk of getting damaged due to blocked arteries.
So how to counter the risk of heart disease?
All this means that from day one of taking steroids, one should pay particular attention to cardio care. Beginners often neglect the importance of cardio workouts. To keep your heart in perfect shape, include cardio regime in your training.
When on steroids, athletes often take protein supplements, while forgetting about the heart. Thus invest in supplements that are good for a heart, like omega-3 and Coq10. Also, pay close attention to the quality of the fats you consume.
Further, do not forget to have a cardio checkup from time to time, especially if you are on steroids for some time. Just remember that heart problems remain symptomless for quite a long until the heart can no longer bear the burden to the body.