A study of 12 male weightlifters who were long-term users of anabolic steroids found that the drugs can cause significant damage to the heart, the Los Angeles Times reported April 27.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital studied the amount of blood pumped out of the heart with each contraction and found that the “ejection fraction” for the weightlifters averaged 50 percent, versus 59 percent among seven weightlifters who did not take steroids. Diastolic function — the left ventricle's ability to relax and fill with blood — also was significantly impaired among the drug users, the study authors found.
“What we hope is that people start recognizing steroid use as a potential cause of heart disease and a cause of otherwise unexplained heart dysfunction in young people,” said researcher Aaron L. Baggish.
The findings were published in the journal Circulation.