Cardiovascular risk and androgenic anabolic steroids

Nicholas Sculthorpe, Fergal Grace, Peter Angell, Julien Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although several drugs are purported to improve exercise performance, androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) are the most widespread. Furthermore, unlike other drugs, their use has expanded beyond competition, to non-competitive and recreational athletes. Correspondingly health professionals are more likely to come into contact with users of AAS than with users of other performance-enhancing drugs. While there are numerous reports outlining serious cardiovascular consequences to high-dose AAS abuse, this evidence is often limited by difficulties in gaining access to users due to the legal status of AAS. Additionally the co-abuse of other substances (as additional muscle mass enhancers, or to mitigate possible side effects) is a further confounding factor. This review examines the evidence for AAS having a negative effect on the cardiac and vascular tissue and the corresponding risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Possible mechanisms of action by which AAS bring about these changes are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-275
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Cardiac Nursing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sep 2013


  • performance-enhancing drugs
  • cardiovascular risk
  • lipid profile
  • sudden cardiac death


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