People who received growth hormones as children to treat short stature or hormone deficiency should be aware that they are at an increased risk of stroke caused by burst blood vessels when they become young adults, a team of French and British researchers say.
The warning is based on findings from a study published in this week’s issue of the journal Neurology, and applies also to people who misuse the growth hormones to improve athletic performance, for body building and other “questionable reasons.”
Growth hormones were approved in the United States in the mid-1980s to treat pituitary gland problems and to increase the height of children with short stature. However, the long-term effects of the drugs were somewhat unknown.
An earlier study indicated an increased risk of death from heart and vascular disease. It is also common medical knowledge that individuals who naturally produce too much growth hormone are at greater risk of aneurysms and brain bleeds, also known as hemorrhagic strokes.
Hemorrhagic strokes, a result of a broken blood vessel, are far less common than strokes caused by a blocked blood vessel. And, strokes of any kind are rare in young adults.
Researchers set out to find how common strokes were among people who received growth hormones as children. For the study, they analyzed data on nearly 7,000 children who received growth hormones for low-risk conditions such as not producing enough of the hormone naturally or to treat short stature. Researchers followed up with those children an average of 17 years later. They also checked medical and death records.
They found that 11 of the individuals who received growth hormones as children had strokes between the time of their treatment and follow up. Eight of those strokes were hemorrhagic. Researchers concluded that the risk of stroke was 7.5 times greater in individuals treated with growth hormones.
Researchers caution that the study doesn’t draw a definitive link between use of the hormones in children and stroke risk later in life, however it is a potential risk factor that should be addressed when weighing the benefits of treatment.
Source: The Baltimore Sun