Long-term use of anabolic steroids can cause damage to the brain.

There are many causes of bleeding in the brain.

Some of these bleeds occur slowly and some are instantaneous and thus immediately life-threatening.

Brain dangers of anabolic steroids:  Is bleeding one of them?

Damages the cardiovascular system, potentially causing “irreversible cardiovascular toxicity, especially atherosclerotic effects,” says a report in Drug and Alcohol Dependence (November 1, 2008).

The “atherosclerotic effects” (hardening of the arteries) promotes the growth of brain aneurysms which can rupture if large enough, causing profuse bleeding.

The other brain damage mentioned in this report is psychiatric and behavioral.

May cause high blood pressure. Hypertension is a risk factor for the development of a brain aneurysm.

Mayonclinic.com says “drug abuse” is a risk factor for an aneurysm, but doesn’t list specific drugs other than cocaine.

A neurosurgery site says that an aneurysm “probably develops slowly throughout a person’s life,” due to a congenital weakness in a brain blood vessel.

However, “Factors promoting the formation of aneurysms include high blood pressure and hardening of the arterial walls. This condition, in turn, is aggravated by high blood pressure…”

Bottom line: A brain bleed is caused by a ruptured aneurysm, whose formation and enlargement over time can be fueled by high blood pressure and diseased arteries, both of which can be caused by anabolic steroids.

Causes of Brain Hemorrhage

Amyloid angiopathy. This abnormality in blood vessel walls can occur with aging – but also high blood pressure.

Aneurysm. A ruptured aneurysm is also called a hemorrhagic stroke.

Blood vessel abnormalities present since birth.

Blood clot. Either formed in a brain artery or traveled there from another part of the body, it damages the artery, causing it to leak blood.

Blood thinner drugs (prescription and over-the-counter). This is far more likely in the elderly.

Brain tumors. A causative link between performance enhancing drugs and brain cancer has not been proven.

Disorders related to childbirth or pregnancy, e.g., postpartum vas culopathy, neonatal intraventricular hemorrhage and eclampsia.

Hardening of the arteries

Head trauma

High blood pressure

Liver disease. Guess what can cause liver disease! Anabolic steroids. Liver disease causes bleeding in general—which potentially includes the brain.

Sickle cell anemia or hemophilia. Congenital (since birth) disorders.

Smoking or excessive alcohol intake

Anabolic steroids do not directly cause a normal or even abnormal blood vessel in the brain to just suddenly dissect and leak blood.

However, anabolic steroids can contribute to aneurysmal growth in a blood vessel that’s likely been weak since birth.

This contribution comes from the high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries that performance enhancing drugs cause.

And of course, if big enough, an aneurysm will rupture and cause bleeding in the brain.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Top image: Shutterstock/James Heilman, MD