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Study shows why Viagra and heart medications don’t mix

Men struggling with impotence are often prescribed Viagra to enhance their sex life, but the popular erectile dysfunction medication is not given to men battling heart problems.

When heart medications, known as nitrates, mix with Viagra studies show blood flow to the heart is interrupted, which can cause further damage to the heart.

Why the combination is dangerous

Researchers from Osaka University and the Mayo Clinic monitored the effects of nitrates and Viagra on mice.

“We found that Viagra, when combined with nitrates, causes a prolonged reduction in blood flow to the heart in critically narrowed coronary arteries,” says Bijoy Khandheria, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist and one of the study authors.

“The good news is that Viagra alone did not significantly decrease blood flow through narrowed arteries. In normal vessels, it actually increased blood flow. The negative effect came only when it was combined with nitrates.”

“Many heart patients need to take nitrates, and many want to use Viagra. This study shows that they should not be taken together. The old adage of taking a nitroglycerine tablet prior to sexual intercourse falls by the wayside if Viagra is prescribed, since the combination can be lethal.”

Using Viagra safely

In addition to highlighting the need for patients to only take Viagra under medical supervision, Dr. Khandheria says the findings provide important guidance for physicians in how to prescribe Viagra safely.

“Men being treated for heart disease are several times more likely to experience moderate or complete impotence, compared with other men their age,” says Dr. Khandheria.

“As a result, many heart patients are interested in using Viagra to maintain their quality of life, so we need to know how it interacts with other medications they may be taking. This study shows a potentially life-threatening interaction between Viagra and nitrates.”

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