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« Daily Steroid Dose | Main | Justin Gatlin obtains a 'restraining order' allowing him to compete at Olympic trials »

06/20/2008

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference NFL prospect Heath Benedict died of irregular heartbeat; enlarged heart and drugs (Viagra) noted:

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You forgot to mention a very common cause of cardiac hypertrophy in elite athletes - heavy weight training.

Millard Baker

You forgot to mention a very common cause of cardiac hypertrophy in elite athletes - heavy weight training.

Millard Baker

Please do not allow "The State" article to mislead you. As you already noted, they do a good job at "distorting the facts."

They are trying to imply that the drugs Arimidex and Viagra were injected by talking about punctures on the arm and syringes found at the scene.

Don't fall for it.

Just because the drugs are found in a solution rather than in pill form, this doesn't mean they are injected. The liquid versions of these drugs are the most commonly used versions by bodybuilders and athletes on internet forums - and everyone knows to take them orally (except for sports writers).

Steroid Nation

Thanks for the comments. I added more from the State on 'puncture wounds' which sound odd. Steroids are generally administered into the muscles in depot form. What would be administered iv?

We also thought the medical examiner wimped out by not commenting on the effects of drugs. Why do medical examiner's consistently overlook the use of HGH and other cardiac toxic drugs? How about narcotics and other pain killers.

Good point about heavy exercise increasing heart size. Often this is an adaptive change in athletes -- increasing heart size. Is there a difference between adaptive and maladaptive cardiac enlargement (cardiomypathy)? We have to plead ignorance on that issue, as that is more of a pathology question. We will do some digging into that question.

The medical examiner ruled Benedict died of a fatal arrhythmia, based on soem evidence, which is again beyond our scope. We will consult with a pathologist to clarify this point.

Millard Baker

Yes, heavy lifting results in a specific type of cardiac enlargement - concentric left ventricular hypertrophy - that is not pathological.

Millard Baker

More information about LVH:

Dickerman RD, Schaller F, McConathy WJ. Left ventricular wall thickening does occur in elite power athletes with or without anabolic steroid use. Cardiology 1998 Oct;90(2):145-8

Summary found here - http://tinyurl.com/4phxyt

"During heavy lifting, systemic blood pressure is increased from what is called the valsalva maneuver. It is simply the act of forceful expiration with the mouth and nose closed producing a "bearing down" on the abdomen. Pressure also increases due to blood vessels being occluded by contracting muscles. It should be noted that the LVH seen in bodybuilders and power lifters is called "concentric left ventricular hypertrophy", meaning that it is the result of contracting against acute increased systemic pressure, and was not considered pathological. "Eccentric" LVH is caused by constant increases of blood pressure not as a result of the valsalva maneuver but instead clinical hypertension that forces the ventrical to expand against resistance. It was previously believed that the intermittent increase in blood pressure that is caused by heavy lifting was not sufficient to elicit left concentric ventricular hypertrophy (CLVH). Any evidence of CLVH in strength athletes or bodybuilders was seen as a sign of anabolic steroid use.

"In the study above researchers identified LVH at or beyond 13mm in not only bodybuilders using anabolic steroids but also in "drug free" athletes as well. Although it was shown that those using anabolics showed significantly more ventricular thickening, at least one drug free athlete was beyond the 13mm limit."

Steroid Nation

Good point Millard.

We need to review that literature much more before commenting on it. We know a forensic pathologist we will call up.

Do medical examiners look at things in this depth? Don't know for sure.

The problem here is that we don't know his medical history. He could be taking prescription drugs, or other substances.

The conclusion of a cardiac arrhythmia is speculation, of course.

Steroid Nation

One more point...we ran across a paper looking at neurotoxicity of testosterone. T by itself wasn't neurotoxic to cells in culture in doses studied. However when Arimidex was added to the culture, the low dose of T was neurotoxic.

There is a huge jump between nerve cells in culture and heart cells, however nerve cells and the conduction cells of the heart conduction system are called 'excitable cells' in that they conduct electrical (chemical) impulses.

Someone in grad school needs to study this...

Millard Baker

Thanks for the info on neurotoxicity of testosterone in the presence of arimidex. The aromatization to estradiol clearly has a big protective effect. I've known about the protective effects of estrogen on lipid profiles. Also, I've heard about estrogens protective effects on the brain (but NOT in the context of the neurotoxic effects of androgens). Feel free to email me anything on this matter.

Many bodybuilders (because of their anxiety about gynecomastia) take too much arimidex and/or other aromatase inhibitors with aromatizable steroids like testosterone. I would go on to say that this is increasingly responsible for the adverse effects on lipid profiles seen nowadays in this population.

Conduction System

Good point about heavy exercise increasing heart size. Often this is an adaptive change in athletes -- increasing heart size.

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