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Adult Growth Hormone Deficiency - Description

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Description of the Adult GH Deficiency Syndrome

There are three components to the adult GH deficiency syndrome. These are body composition changes, blood lipid (cholesterol and fat) changes, and psychological changes. Because GH maintains muscle and fat, loss of this hormone results in a decrease in muscle and in an accumulation of fat. The decrease in muscle translates to poor muscle function and decreased exercise capacity. The increase in fat occurs under the skin, but also in the abdomen or, more specifically, inside the abdomen. This location is referred to as visceral fat. Medical science has discovered that visceral fat accumulation is especially dangerous because it is associated with an increase in the aging of blood vessels, referred to as atherosclerosis. The blood lipid changes reflect the fat deposit changes and are all in the wrong direction. More specifically, there is an increase in the "bad" cholesterol ("LDL cholesterol") and a decrease in the "good" cholesterol ("HDL cholesterol"). There is also an increase in the blood triglycerides, another circulating fat, which is associated with blood vessel aging.

The psychological changes associated with GH deficiency have been extensively studied. Patients who develop GH deficiency seem to lose energy. Loss of energy is often the guiding symptom which prompts further investigation. Many individuals with pituitary disease, especially those with other hormone deficiencies, realize that something is missing. Frequently, it turns out to be a deficiency of GH. Individuals with this problem , or their spouses, also notice a loss of interest in their usual hobbies or activities. A decrease in sociability referred to as social isolation is another symptom. Patients suffering with this symptom do not like to go out and meet with their friends or social acquaintances. Patients may also develop mild depression or decrease in sexual function.