Study Eases Viagra Concerns
A study has found that Viagra does not reduce blood flow to the heart in some men with heart disease, a conclusion that should ease some safety concerns about the popular sexual potency pill, Mayo Clinic researchers reported Tuesday.
The study involved men with stable heart disease who were not taking nitrates, drugs used to treat angina. Because some earlier studies showed nitrates can cause serious decreases in heart blood flow and blood pressure when combined with Viagra, men in the study were not allowed to use nitrates during its course.
The 105 men with an average age of 66 in the study were given either Viagra or a sugar pill and underwent an exercise stress test an hour later.
The drug “had no adverse effect on symptoms or how long the men were able to exercise,” said Patricia Pellikka, lead investigator for the study.
“We expected and saw that echocardiograms of these heart disease patients would show evidence of inadequate blood supply to the heart muscle during exercise. The key finding, however, is that the problem was not made worse” by Viagra use.
While a test involving 105 patients is not large enough “to absolutely predict cardiac events,” she added, “as a cardiologist these findings increase my confidence in prescribing [Viagra]. . . . For men with coronary artery disease who are not taking nitrates, the study should provide reassurance that sildenafil [as Viagra is called generically] is not likely to increase their heart attack risks.”
About 30 million men in the United States alone have impotence problems, conditions which often coexist with heart disease, the study said. Since Viagra was approved for use there have been reports of adverse effects, including heart attack, abnormally rapid heart rhythm, low blood pressure and death, raising concerns about the safety of the drug for heart disease patients.