Cardiovascular Effects of Performance-Enhancing Drugs


Exercise and competitive sports should be associated with a wide range of health benefits with the potential to inspire a positive community health legacy. However, the reputation of sports is being threatened by an ever-expanding armamentarium of agents with real or perceived benefits in performance enhancement. In addition to the injustice of unfair advantage for dishonest athletes, significant potential health risks are associated with performance-enhancing drugs. Performance-enhancing drugs may have an effect on the cardiovascular system by means of directly altering the myocardium, vasculature, and metabolism. However, less frequently considered is the potential for indirect effects caused through enabling athletes to push beyond normal physiological limits with the potential consequence of exercise-induced arrhythmias. This review will summarize the known health effects of PEDs but will also focus on the potentially greater health threat posed by the covert search for performance-enhancing agents that have yet to be recognized by the World Anti-Doping Agency. History has taught us that athletes are subjected to unmonitored trials with experimental drugs that have little or no established efficacy or safety data. One approach to decrease drug abuse in sports would be to accept that there is a delay from when athletes start experimenting with novel agents to the time when authorities become aware of these drugs. This provides a window of opportunity for athletes to exploit with relative immunity. It could be argued that all off-label use of any agent should be deemed illegal.

Autor / Fonte:André La Gerche, Maria J. Brosnan Circulation. 2017;135:89-99 Originally published December 27, 2016