Purpose: Anabolic steroid (AS) misuse is widespread amongst recreational bodybuilders; however, their effects on the cardiovascular system are uncertain. Our aim was to document the impact of AS use on cardiac structure, function and the presence of focal fibrosis using the gold standard cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (CMR). Methods: A cross-sectional cohort design was utilised with 21 strength-trained participants who underwent CMR imaging of the heart and speckle-tracking echocardiography. Thirteen participants (30 ± 5 years) taking AS for at least 2 years and currently on a "using"-cycle were compared with age and training-matched controls (n = 8; 29 ± 6 years) who self-reported never having taken AS (NAS). Results: AS users had higher absolute left ventricular (LV) mass (220 ± 45 g) compared to NAS (163 ± 27 g; p <0.05) but this difference was removed when indexed to fat-free mass. AS had a reduced right ventricular (RV) ejection fraction (AS 51 ± 4 % vs. NAS 59 ± 5 %; p <0.05) and a significantly lower left ventricular E':A' myocardial tissue velocity ratio [AS 0.99(0.54) vs. NAS 1.78(0.46) p <0.05] predominantly due to greater tissue velocities with atrial contraction. Peak LV longitudinal strain was lower in AS users (AS -14.2 ± 2.7 % vs. NAS -16.6 ± 1.9 %; p <0.05). There was no evidence of focal fibrosis in any participant. Conclusions: AS use was associated with significant LV hypertrophy, albeit in-line with greater fat-free mass, reduced LV strain, diastolic function, and reduced RV ejection fraction in male bodybuilders. There was, however, no evidence of focal fibrosis in any AS user. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Angell, P. J., Ismail, T. F., Jabbour, A., Smith, G. C., Dahl, A. L., Wage, R., Whyte, G. P., Green, D. J., Prasad, S. K., & George, K. P. (2014). Ventricular structure, function, and focal fibrosis in anabolic steroid users: A CMR study. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 114(5), 921-928. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-014-2820-2