Increased blood pressure and aortic stiffness among abusers of anabolic androgenic steroids: potential effect of suppressed natriuretic peptides in plasma?

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Abstract

Background:

Abuse of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) is prevalent among recreational athletes and adverse effects on blood pressure (BP) and arterial stiffness could be substantial. Testosterone decreases natriuretic peptides which are key components in BP-regulation and may impair BP-homeostasis in AAS abusers.

Objective:

To investigate BP and aortic stiffness in relation to natriuretic peptides among current AAS abusers, former AAS abusers and controls.

Methods:

In this cross-sectional study, 37 current AAS abusers, 33 former AAS abusers and 30 controls were included. All participants were men involved in recreational strength training. We used 24-h BP monitoring, assessed proximal aorta distensibility index (ADI) by MRI and obtained overnight fasting blood samples to measure: midregional proatrial natriuretic peptide (MR-proANP), aldosterone, noradrenaline and copeptin.

Results:

Current AAS abusers exhibited higher mean (95% confidence interval) 24-h systolic BP than controls [132 (129; 135) versus 124 (120; 128) mmHg, P = 0.005] and systolic hypertension was more frequent among current AAS abusers than controls (51 versus 17%, P = 0.009). ADI was lower among both current and former AAS abusers suggesting higher aortic stiffness; %-difference (95% confidence interval) from controls: −21% (−35; −5) and −21% (−36; −4), P < 0.05. Plasma MR-proANP was decreased, whereas aldosterone and noradrenaline were increased among current AAS abusers compared with former AAS abusers and controls. Decreased MR-proANP was independently associated with increased systolic BP and reduced ADI in multivariate linear regressions.

Conclusion:

Current AAS abusers displayed increased 24-h systolic BP and decreased plasma MR-proANP. Both current and former AAS abusers exhibited higher aortic stiffness.

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