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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Longterm Steroid Use Causes Problems

UPDATE: 29 April 2010

Long-term anabolic steroid use may weaken heart more than previously thought

ScienceDaily (2010-04-28) -- Long-term anabolic steroid use may weaken the heart more than previously thought, a new study finds. Steroid-related heart impairment is severe enough to potentially increase the risk of heart failure. The left ventricle, the heart muscle primarily responsible for pumping blood throughout the body, was significantly weaker among steroid users. ... > read full article

ORIGINAL POST DATE: 12/8/07 Recently I have met several people who have been taking steroids for many years without the awareness that this class of drugs can cause serious health problems.

Along with the understanding I have because of my many years of pharmacology in college, grad school and continuing education, I continue to wonder why today's physicians and other prescribers fail so frequently to inform patients about the side effects and risks of drugs.

This alert is from Johns Hopkins. I do not agree with all of their recommendations because they offer no natural or nutritional options, however, it is worth reading.
The higher the steroid dose, the more likely that side effects -- cataracts, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, hair loss -- may occur.

As a growing number of people with lung disease are living longer, more people are taking long-term oral steroids for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other chronic lung conditions.

Long-term use of oral steroids can cause serious side effects, ranging from osteoporosis to cataracts to high blood pressure and diabetes. If you’re taking an oral steroid, it’s critical to talk with your doctor about how to minimize these steroid side effects.

Corticosteroids can prevent or reverse inflammation in the airways, making them less sensitive to triggers. If you have severe asthma and you have tried high doses of inhaled steroids without success, your doctor may recommend oral steroids. Some people take oral steroids because they have COPD that other medications can’t relieve.

If you take daily oral steroids for months or years, particularly in moderate to high doses, you are at increased risk for developing any of a variety of side effects: cataracts, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, easily bruised skin, hair loss, facial hair growth in women, weight gain, and puffy cheeks. Other possible side effects include hyperexcitability, insomnia, and (in a small number of patients) aggressive behavior or even psychosis.

Steps you can take to avoid osteoporosis and other side effects:

* Ask your doctor about getting regular bone scans to detect osteoporosis.
* Get about 1,500 mg of calcium daily through nutrition or supplements. Because vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, it may help to take 800 international units (IU) daily of vitamin D.
* If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, your doctor will recommend medication.
* If you take moderate to high doses of corticosteroids, have regular eye exams to check for glaucoma.
* Ask your doctor whether you can reduce your oral steroid dose by adding other medications.
* Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
* Also have your blood sugar checked frequently. Use of high dose steroids has been associated with the development diabetes.

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