The non-therapeutic use of androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS) is associated with sudden cardiac death. Despite this, there is no proposed mechanism by which this may occur. Signal-averaged ECG (SAECG) allows the assessment of cardiac electrical stability, reductions of which are a known risk factor for cardiac arrhythmias. The aim of the present study was to examine cardiac electrical stability using SAECG in a group (n = 15) of long-term AAS users (AAS use 21.3 +/- A 3.1 years) compared with a group (n = 15) of age-matched weight lifters (WL) and age-matched sedentary controls [C (n = 15)]. AS, WL and C underwent SAECG analysis at rest and following an acute bout of exercise to volitional exhaustion. SAECGs were analyzed using a 40 Hz filter and were averaged over 200 beats. Results indicate a non-significant trend for increased incidence of abnormal SAECG measures at rest in AS (P = 0.55). However, AS demonstrated a significantly higher incidence of abnormalities of SAECG following exercise than C or WL (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the higher incidence of abnormal SAECG measurements immediately post-exercise in the AAS group places them at a greater risk of sudden death. The present study provides a strong contraindication to the use of AAS.
- Late ventricular potentials (LPs)
- Androgenic anabolic steroids (AAS)
- Signal-averaged electrocardiogram (SAECG) arrhythmias
- Sudden cardiac death (SCD)
- Left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH)