Urhausen, A., Albers, T., & Kindermann, W. (2004) Are the cardiac effects of anabolic steroid abuse in strength athletes reversible? Heart, 90(5), 496-501.

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This study investigated the reversibility of adverse cardiovascular effects after chronic abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) in athletes. Bodybuilders/powerlifters comprised Ss (N = 15) who had taken AAS for at least 12 months (ex-users),Ss (N = 17) currently abusing AAS (users), and Ss (N = 15) AAS-free weightlifters.

Systolic blood pressure was significantly than in ex-users or weightlifters. Left ventricular muscle mass related to fat-free body mass and the ratio of mean left ventricular wall thickness to internal diameter were no different in users than in ex-users, but were significantly lower in weightlifters. Left ventricular wall thickness related to fat-free body mass was lower in weightlifters, but did not differ between users and ex-users. Left ventricular wall thickness was correlated with a point score estimating AAS abuse in users. In all groups, systolic left ventricular function was within the normal range. The maximum late transmitral Doppler flow velocity (Amax) was higher in users and ex-users than in weightlifters.

Implication. Several years after discontinuation of anabolic steroid abuse, strength athletes still showed a slight concentric left ventricular hypertrophy in comparison with AAS-free strength athletes. [Note: this concerns steroid abuse, which is defined as being in the range of 10-40 times the daily therapeutic dose, something the vast range of athletes are unlikely to do.]

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