December 18, 2014
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Sexual Health

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Is Viagra safe in men with high blood pressure?

On May 15, 2002, the results from an important study on the use of Viagra® in men with hypertension arrived in my email. It seems that the "magic pill" has been shown to be safe for use in men who are taking high blood pressure medication.

If you're wondering why Viagra® would be a problem for men with hypertension - it's because one of the effects of Viagra® is increased blood flow - specifically in the penis - which is one the causes of erection. However, if you are already having problems with blood pressure - such that your blood pressure is too high, then increasing the blood flow can be dangerous. Hypertension can result from any number of causes including family history, weight gain, diabetes, renal insufficiency, and atherosclerosis.

Back to the study. The results were announced at the annual scientific meeting of the American Society of Hypertension held in New York in 2002. In all, 562 men were involved in the study. They had had high blood pressure for an average of 12 years, and erectile dysfunction (ED) for an average of 4.5 years. They were taking 2 or more antihypertensive medications at the time of the study, and they included all the major types of medications for hypertension: diuretics, beta-blockers, alpha-blockers, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (also known as ACE inhibitors), and calcium channel blockers (also known as CCB).

The study investigators reported no serious adverse events related to Viagra® therapy. In fact the majority of side effects included short-lived, mild to moderate facial flushing, headache, indigestion, dizziness, nasal congestion, and abnormal vision. However, 2% of the men in the study chose to discontinue due to these side effects.

Of the men who continued in the study and took Viagra®, 71% reported having improved erections compared to only 18% of the men on placebo.

The 12-week blinded phase of the study was followed by a 6-week open-label "extension" phase (when patients and doctors are told who has been taking what, and can then decide whether or not to continue in the study on the study drug or placebo). During this phase, 80% of the men who took Viagra® reported having improved erections and intercourse.

Just in case you're wondering, the effectiveness of Viagra® was assessed using patients' responses to several standard assessments such as the International Index of Erectile Function, 2 global efficacy assessment questions, and the Erectile Dysfunction Inventory of Treatment Satisfaction.

Overall, this study is very encouraging. However it must be said that Viagra® is a prescription medication, and if you are taking other prescription medications, you should consult with your physician or cardiologist before taking Viagra®, particularly if you are recovering from a recent cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or myocardial infarction. And Viagra® remains contraindicated in patients who use nitrates in any form at any time.

If you would like to know more about ED, visit the sexual health channel at medbroadcast.com.

 

 
Claire Sowerbutt, medical writer 
in association with the MediResource Clinical Team 


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