You may have heard a lot about anabolic steroids recently. They get a lot of bad press in the media. And for good reason. Many people overuse and misuse them. In fact, we usually hear about them in sports, where athletes will use them to gain a competitive edge.

The reason athletes use anabolic steroids is to build their muscles up beyond what they can do normally. Anabolic hormones build tissue, compared to catabolic hormones (such as cortisone) that degrade muscle and tissue. But anabolic hormones are not just for athletes. And they're not just for men.

Both sexes produce anabolic steroids. While their use in sports gives them a bad name, they do have a place in medical treatment. This is especially true if you have chronic heart failure.

A study in Circulation found that low levels of anabolic hormones were quite common in men with chronic heart failure (CHF). The researchers found that men of all ages with CHF are deficient in DHEAS, total and free testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor. The association is extremely strong. So much so that low levels of these four hormones are predictive of future CHF.

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Men with more DHEAS had a better ejection fraction. That's the amount of blood that your heart pumps out in one stroke. It's a very important indicator for the vitality of your heart.

Furthermore, doctors can determine with an amazing degree of accuracy how long a CHF patient will live simply by measuring their levels of hormones. CHF men with the highest anabolic steroids had the highest three-year survival. The three-year survival of men with one deficiency dropped by 26%. With two hormone deficiencies, it dropped by 45%. And with three deficiencies, it dropped a whopping 73%. These results suggest that men with chronic heart failure who have a deficiency in more than one anabolic hormone may have an increased risk of dying within three years.

Action to take: If you have heart failure, please get these hormones checked. DHEA is easy to find at most health food stores. Testosterone requires a prescription. And you can improve IGF-1 levels with growth hormone injections. CHF is one of the few conditions where I like the use of growth hormone.

Unfortunately, most conventional doctors won't help you. See your integrative physician as soon as possible if you have CHF. He is likely well trained in evaluating these hormone deficiencies and can help you with treatment as well.

Ref: Circulation, 2006; 114(17): 1829-37.

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