Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease of Various Kinds of Doping

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of deaths all around the world. The tendency to use doping in sports to enhance physical abilities has become a global problem as well, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease among athletes. Although it is strictly forbidden to use stimulating substances in sporting events, modern athletes, both professional and amateur, use almost undetectable combinations of various kinds of doping. As a result, an increasing amount of them experience severe cardiovascular disorders, which in some cases lead to fatal consequences. As the use of various doping kinds such as anabolic steroids, peptide hormones, and stimulants negatively affects the cardiovascular system, it is essential to avoid using doping to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The most common doping substances which pose a risk for the cardiovascular system are anabolic steroids. Usually, athletes use anabolic steroids such as testosterone to increase lean muscle mass (Angell et al. 178). Despite their widespread use, there is evidence that shows various adverse effects on people’s health, especially on the cardiovascular system. The risk factors connected to this kind of doping include alterations in blood pressure, lipid profile, left ventricular (LV) mass, arterial functions, and cardiac functions (Angell et al. 179). All of these alterations are the premonitory symptoms of cardiovascular disease. For instance, the use of anabolic steroids leads to left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), which is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular mortality (Payne, Kotwinski, and Montgomery 474). This condition results in the occurrence of several comorbid symptoms, which can also lead to cardiovascular disease. The symptoms include hypertension and dyslipidemia, both of which increase the risk of premature cardiovascular death (474). Another risk factor associated with anabolic steroids is the increased blood pressure. Usually, athletes who use this type of doping have increased resting and exercise systolic blood pressure, which poses a substantial cardiovascular disease risk (Angell et al. 179). Finally, adverse alterations in the lipid profile caused by anabolic steroids also demonstrate that their use can lead to cardiovascular disease. Such changes usually indicate an increased atherosclerotic risk (179), which also negatively affects the cardiovascular system. Thus, anabolic steroids cause severe alterations in the cardiovascular system.

Peptide hormones, which athletes often use as doping, can also increase the risks connected to cardiovascular health. This group includes growth hormones, erythropoietin, corticotropin, insulin, and insulin-like growth factor-1 (Deligiannis and Kouidi 450). Although athletes take growth hormones to increase muscle mass, it also has a negative influence on muscle fibers, including the myocardium. As the use of growth hormones results in muscle hypertrophy, the inelastic elements in muscles also increase, posing a risk for arrhythmia and the development of heart failure (450). Although erythropoietin increases aerobic capacity, its use also leads to cardiovascular disorders. As it increases the levels of hematocrit, it increases the blood viscosity and cardiac overload as well (450). Such complications, in turn, often indicate the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Some athletes prefer to use stimulants to act upon the central nervous system, ignoring the risks related to their use. One example of such stimulants can be amphetamine. Specifically, it can lead to a coronary artery spasm, which results in myocardial infarction and diffuse vasospasm. Its long-term use leads to arterial hypertension (Deligiannis and Kouidi 451), which also poses a risk for the cardiovascular system. Another risk factor connected to the use of amphetamines is heart rhythm disturbance (451). Thus, these substances lead to the development of arrhythmias. Another common stimulant used in sports is cocaine. Its effects are even more severe, as it causes addiction. The drug has a strong sympathomimetic and parasympatholytic influence, which leads to the appearance of ischemia (451). It also negatively affects the respiratory system, which leads to the reduction of oxygen supply. This reduction, in turn, is a risk factor of the thrombogenic process (451). The use of cocaine for doping can cause both chronic and acute cardiovascular disease. It may also lead to premature coronary disease, coronary artery aneurysms, rupture, aortic dissection, and stroke (Angell et al. 181). Thus, the stimulants of the central nervous system can increase the occurrence of various cardiovascular disorders.

To conclude, it is recommendable to avoid using all kinds of doping, including anabolic steroids, peptide hormones, and stimulants, to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, as the doping affects cardiovascular health negatively. While athletes use doping to increase muscle mass and stimulate physical activity, they usually ignore the potential negative consequences. The most common risk factors associated with doping include alterations in blood pressure, lipid profile, and left ventricular (LV) mass, as well as muscle hypertrophy, arterial hypertension, and heart rhythm disturbances. Thus, it is important to remember that doping has more negative than positive sides, and winning in a competition is not worth the consequences of its use.

Works Cited

Angell, Peter J et al. “Performance Enhancing Drug Abuse and Cardiovascular Risk in Athletes: Implications for the Clinician.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol 46, no. Suppl 1, 2012, pp. i78-i84. BMJ, doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091186.
Deligiannis, Asterios, and Evangelia Kouidi. “Cardiovascular Adverse Effects of Doping in Sports.” Hellenic Journal of Cardiology, vol 53, 2012, pp. 447-457.
Payne, J R. “Cardiac Effects of Anabolic Steroids.” Heart, vol 90, no. 5, 2004, pp. 473-475. BMJ, doi:10.1136/hrt.2003.025783.

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