CT ties steroids, early coronary artery disease in Brazilian population

Brazilian researchers used CT angiography to examine atherosclerosis in individuals who have used anabolic androgenic steroids, finding that the drugs could lead to early onset coronary artery disease.

The study, presented Nov. 4 at the Brazilian Congress of Cardiology and led by Francis Ribeiro de Souza, PhD, examined 51 men with an average age of 29—21 who lifted weights and used steroids, 20 who lifted weights but did not use steroids and 10 healthy but sedentary men.

Atherosclerosis was present in the coronary arteries of 24 percent of the steroid users compared to none of the non-users. The steroid users also had lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels and reduced HDL function.

“Our study suggests that anabolic androgenic steroid use may be associated with the development of coronary artery disease in apparently healthy young people,” Ribeiro de Souza said. “Steroids may have an impact on the ability of HDL to remove cholesterol from macrophages, thereby promoting atherosclerosis.”

steroid use to atherosclerosis. Larger, longer-term studies are warranted, he said.

“This study despite its small sample size is well done and calls attention to a possible important health problem in Brazil and elsewhere since it shows not only the classical lipid disturbances induced by steroids but actually associates them with subclinical atherosclerosis presence, something that we are not supposed to find in young individuals,” said Raul Santos, MD, PhD, the scientific chair of the conference.

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