Increased Heart Attack Risk Caused by Anabolic Steroid Use

anabolic steroids. This drug has an effect of the dihydrotestosterone or the testosterones on the body and is more commonly known as the “steroids” and the technical term used for them is “anabolic-androgen steroids (AAS).” The word anabolic has been derived from the Greek word ”

” anabole which means “something which is thrown up” and androgenic is the word that is derived from the word

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Andros which means “of a man” + -? -genes, “born” (Grace et al., 2003).

These steroids or anabolic drugs are known to have virilizing and androgenic characteristics because of which they cause the development of masculine characteristics such as: the growth of body hair, deepening of the voice and testicles (Grace et al., 2003).

The drug actions and side effects

There are a lot of very harmful side effects related to the use of these anabolic drugs. However, most of these side effects are dependent on the amount of the intake of these drugs. The most common side effect is that of increased blood pressure but, usually the people who suffer from hyper tension tend to get the high blood pressure (Grace et al., 2003).

Another very harmful side effect of these drugs is the dangerous fluctuations in the cholesterol level as these drugs have been observed to cause an increase in the LDL cholesterol, which is very harmful for the health and decreases the HDL cholesterol which is beneficial for the health (Tokar, 2006).

The anabolic drugs like the testosterones can be very harmful for the health as they cause a lot of problems like increasing the risk of the coronary artery or the cardiovascular disease. Also, it has been noticed that these drugs can be a cause of changes the fasting blood glucose and sugar tolerance tests. Premature baldness rate can also increase in the men who are already genetically inclined towards it as these drugs can result in the conversion of the testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) however, in case of the females these drugs can cause baldness. The people who take these anabolic drugs are often noticed to have the acne problems as well. Also, the consumption of these drugs in high quantity can result in liver damage as the bioavailability and the stability of these drugs is increases when they are metabolized in the digestive system (Tokar, 2006).

Gynecomastia is another condition that results from the intake of these drugs, in this condition the conversion of testosterone to estradiol increases because of an enzyme called aromatase and this result in the development of breast tissues in males; some other side effects include temporary loss of fertility and loss of sperm productivity (Tokar, 2006).

The side effects faced by the females who use these drugs are the deepening of voice, temporary reduction in menstrual cycles, increased body hair and enlarged clitoris. Also, these anabolic drugs can affect the fetus when taken during the pregnancy and they can result in the development of masculine characteristics in the females and feminine characteristics in the males.

According to a review done in 2005 in the CNS Drugs, it was noted that these drugs can mostly result in the aggressive and violent behavior and at times the person taking these drugs can become suicidal psychotic. However, the long-term use of these drugs can result in dependence symptoms and the person may withdraw on the discontinuation of the AAS (Tokar, 2006).

It has been noticed from the available evidences that the therapeutic use of the anabolic drugs doesn’t result in their addiction however, AAS dependence is more common in the bodybuilders and the weightlifters who constantly mange the supraphysiologic doses. Another adverse effect affiliated with the use of the anabolic drugs is the reduction in the neurons which results due to the death of the already existing neurons and this may result in neuropsychiatric toxicity which is irreversible. Although the mood swings such as the psychotic features, mania etc. can be dependent on the amount of the dose of drug however, the effects of the withdrawal or the AAS dependence are only seen in very few users (Tokar, 2006).


Most of the times these anabolic drugs are produced in the pharmaceuticals however, in the countries where the laws are very strict against the production of such drugs, these are produced in homes and usually the raw materials required to make these drugs are smuggled from other countries. Also, in such countries where its illegal and very difficult to obtained these drugs they are smuggled from across the border and usually in such activities there is an involvement of the organized crimes (Hoffman et al., 2006).

In was noticed that in the 2000s this business of smuggling the AAS increase to a great extent, this can also be seen from the fact that the Finnish authorities announced the capture of 11.8 million AAS tablets in 2006 and in 2007-11.4 million units of AAS were arrested by the DEA and this is known as the U.S. arrest in its history. Then 300 arrests were made of AAS shipments by the Australian customs in the first three months of 2003 (Hoffman et al., 2006).

In the countries where there are very strict rules against the steroids such as, Canada, U.S. Or Europe these drugs can be obtained from the dealers just like any other drugs. They can also be obtained from the physicists, pharmacists or veterinarians. These drugs are also sold in the competitions and gyms as wells as delivered in the mail, posing as some medicines from overseas (Hoffman et al., 2006).

The black market in U.S. gets all these steroids mainly by import from the countries such as, Thailand and Mexico where these drugs are still legal (Vierhapper et al., 2003).

Interests in its use and the types of athletes who may use it

Is has been noticed that the use of these anabolic drugs is most common in the men as well as women who are involved in sports such as, bodybuilding, shot put, weight lifting, cricket, football, basketball etc. The main reason why these drugs are used is to gain the competitive on the opponents and this is the reason why it has been noted that the use of these drugs is very common in the adolescents involved in the competitive sports. In fact, the percentage of the students belonging to the high schools in U.S. who use these kinds of drugs is as high as 2.7%. Also, the male students tend to use these drugs a lot more than the females and the students who play supports make up the major portion of the student consumers of these drugs (Vierhapper et al., 2003).

The regulations by professional organizations on its use

Even with all the adverse effects related to the unauthorized consumption of the anabolic drugs it is surprising to know that these drugs are still legal and very easily available, even without a prescription, in a lot of countries such as, Thailand and Mexico (Melnik et al., 2007).

However, in Australia, Brazil, Portugal and Argentina the buying of these drugs is illegal without the prescription. In the case of Canada the Controlled drugs and substances act is what the anabolic drugs and their derivatives come under and they are categorized as the Schedule IV substances which means that the person processing these drugs is not punished (punishment is applicable to only Schedule 1,2 and 3) but the buying or selling of these drugs can result in imprisonment for as much as 18 months (Melnik et al., 2007).

In case of the U.S., the anabolic drugs are included in the Schedule III controlled substances and not only the person having the drugs on him/her without a prescription is punished for as much as a year, as it is considered a federal crime, but the one selling them or buying them illegally can be sent to the prison for as long as ten years.

All the major organizations related to sports such as, the Olympics, the National Hockey League, Federation Internationale de Football Association along with the National Football League have banned the anabolic steroids. In facts, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has a list containing all the drugs related to the enhancement of the performance along with the hormone related substances as well as the anabolic drugs (Kanayama et al., 2008).

Law ratification of the International Convention Against Doping in Sport was signed in 2006 by Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, meaning that the Russians would fully co-operate with the WADA (Kanayama et al., 2008).

A national anti-doping agency has been made by Spain after it passed the anti-doping law.

A law was passed by Italy in 2000 according to which if an athlete was tested for the consumption of a drug that has been banned he/she will be sent to prison for as long as three years (Kanayama et al., 2008).

A lot of other countries have similar to restrict the use of these anabolic drugs, among these countries are; France, Sweden, Denmark and Netherlands (Kanayama et al., 2008).

Summary: An attached handout

From all the data and evidences provided above it is evident that all these anabolic drugs are very harmful for health as:

These drugs not only affect you mentally but also physically and the long-term use of these drugs can cause some irreversible damage.

These drugs may improve the performance of the athletes for a very short period of time but in the long run they can cause life threatening damages.

The use of these drugs under the proper instructions of the experts hasn’t been observed to cause any harm however, when taken without proper supervision these drugs can lead to their addiction, dependent symptoms along with mood swings etc.

The anabolic drugs, even with all their side effects, are still legal and widely available in a lot of countries. However, the countries like U.S., Australia and Canada have made the use of these drugs with prescription illegal but these are still available in the black markets in these countries as, these drugs are smuggled from the countries such as, Thailand and Mexico, where they are still legal.

In U.S., mostly the percentage of high school students using the anabolic drugs is approximately 2.7% and most of them are males. From among these students the ones who are involved in competitive sports have been noticed to take them more than others.

All the sport organizations have banned the use of these anabolic and other types of performance enhancements drugs and strict actions are taken against those players who do use these drugs.

Therefore, it is fairly obvious that the use of these anabolic steroids can be very harmful for the health if taken with proper supervision and their long-term use can cause some serious problems. Hence, the drugs of such type should only be taken after the proper consultation with an expert and regular medical check-ups should be carried out while on such drugs.


Grace F, Sculthorpe N, Baker J, Davies B (2003). “Blood pressure and rate pressure product response in males using high-dose anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS).” J Sci Med Sport 6 (3): 307 — 12.

Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA (June 1, 2006). “Medical Issues Associated with Anabolic Steroid Use: Are they Exaggerated?” (PDF). Journal of Sports Science and Medicine.

Kanayama G, Hudson JI, Pope HG (November 2008). “Long-Term Psychiatric and Medical Consequences of Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Abuse: A Looming Public Health Concern?.” Drug Alcohol Depend 98 (1 — 2): 1 — 12.

Melnik B, Jansen T, Grabbe S (2007). “Abuse of anabolic-androgenic steroids and bodybuilding acne: an underestimated health problem.” Journal der Deutschen Dermatologischen Gesellschaft: Journal of the German Society of Dermatology.

Tokar, S (February 2006). “Liver Damage and Increased Heart Attack Risk Caused by Anabolic Steroid Use.” University of California – San Francisco.

Vierhapper H, Maier H, Nowotny P, Waldhausl W (July 2003). “Production rates of testosterone and of dihydrotestosterone in female pattern hair loss.” Metab. Clin. Exp. 52 (7): 927 — 9.

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