Most of us associate steroids with substances that are supposed to contribute to the growth of muscle volume. However, as it turns out, they are also used in the treatment of various diseases. Each person planning to use them should be aware of the possibility of various complications, which include heart palpitations or hypertrophy of the heart muscle.
What are steroids?
Steroids are a common term for steroids, i.e. lipid compounds of plant or animal origin. In humans, they occur as steroid hormones, which are produced by the adrenal glands. There are 2 types – glucocorticosteroids and mineralocorticosteroids. The former have anti-inflammatory properties, the latter affect water and mineral regulation of our body.
In what situations are steroids used?
Steroids can be used as therapeutic substances. Mineralocorticosteroids are used, among others, in the treatment of hypertension, and glucocorticosteroids are responsible for regulating the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. They are secreted as a response to various stressful situations in the body. Glucocorticosteroids have immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory effects, which makes them useful in the treatment of various autoimmune diseases. These include asthma, allergic rhinitis, inflammatory bowel disease, eczema, atopic dermatitis, urticaria, sciatica, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis and myositis. In medicine, steroids are also used as hormone replacement therapy, contraceptive drugs and preparations to facilitate pregnancy. They are also commonly used as doping agents to accelerate muscle tissue growth and fat burning and increase strength.
Is it safe to use steroids?
Before starting a steroid treatment, you should be aware of the fact that their use can be associated with a number of different types of side effects. This makes it imperative that steroid therapy should always be done under strict medical supervision.
The likelihood of side effects depends on a number of factors, which include the type of steroid taken, the dosage and the duration of treatment. The most common side effects include emotional disturbances, vision problems, cataracts, muscle weakness, weight gain, increased appetite, facial swelling, tendency to bruise, excessive body hair, osteoporosis, acne, high blood pressure, stomach irritation, subcutaneous tissue atrophy, diabetes, sleep disturbances, impaired wound healing, decreased immunity, stretch marks, and heart problems.
How can the side effects of taking steroids be reduced? Regular physical activity, a diet low in fats and sugars and rich in potassium-containing products and calcium preparations with vitamin D may help.
Effects of steroids on the heart
Excessive or uncontrolled intake of steroids may be associated with hypertrophy of the heart muscle. This organ is classified as a striated muscle, which is associated with the fact that it consists of receptors for steroid hormones, which affect the metabolism of heart muscle cells. Due to the proliferation of heart tissue, there is a reduction in heart chamber volume and impaired valve function. This can lead to valvular regurgitation, ischemic heart disease, pulmonary hypertension and heart muscle failure.
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