Do steroids change the blood pressure?
Yes, medical specialists think that increase in blood pressure and elevated risk of cardiovascular complications is one of the significant side effects of anabolic steroids. In fact, in the recent conference of endocrine society, a paper was presented on the subject.
It is reported that steroids may increase blood pressure both during the day and while resting. However, this side effect is more common when steroids are abused, and not reasonably used. That is in cases when doses are exceeded continually. It happens when someone continues to use steroids over a prolonged period without a break, that is not using them in cycles or in a right way.
Generally, an increase in blood pressure due to steroids use is temporary, and not permanent. It means blood pressure problem is not present in former abusers, or those who take timely corrective measures like dosage correction or discontinuation.
Although, blood pressure elevation may not occur in all the cases, but if it occurs, it should not be neglected. Unwatched hypertension is the major reason for heart attack, stroke, and other vascular diseases. It may also damage kidney and other organs.
One reason for the change in blood pressure is water retention, as most of the steroids are known to cause it. Further steroids lead to sodium-retention and thus increasing the blood pressure. Steroids inhibit the 11-beta-hydroxylase enzyme thus resulting in higher production of deoxycorticosterone, which is the cause of higher sodium and water retention.
Researchers think that there are various other mechanisms too behind the blood pressure change caused due to steroids. They are thought to directly affect the vascular elasticity, production of nitric oxide by vascular endothelium. Steroid also increase the release of other sympathetic hormones like epinephrine.
However, it does not mean that everyone would get high blood pressure by using anabolic steroids. Genetics and individual sensitivities play great role in this. Those who abuse steroids for months or years together are at much higher risk. Similarly, those who take higher than recommended doses are at greater risk.
Fortunately, in short run most of the cardiovascular effects of steroids are reversible. Although it may not be the case if person continues to use them non-stop for years together. That only underlines the importance of using steroid in right dose, and in cycles.
How to reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications if a person has decided to use steroids or some reasons?
First and foremost, do not exceed the recommended doses. Moreover, recommended regimes for naïve (first time user) and those taking repeatedly, differs. Secondly, take them in cycles. Cycles simply mean that give your body a rest. In medicine, these are also called wash-out periods. If you do not take steroids for some time, the body gets an opportunity to clean itself and recover from various unwanted effects, though it will not result in reversal of mass or muscle strength gain.
Finally, in some cases, there may be a need for post cycle therapy (PCT). Even using other drugs under medical supervision to get rid of the side effects of anabolic steroids is not a bad idea. Bad is the neglection and not discussing things with a specialist.