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Thursday, May 29, 2014

More Than 500 Deaths Associated With Use of Viagra -- Is It Safe?

Viagra, the little blue pill invented by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in 1998, is prescribed for men with erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to achieve or sustain an erection suitable for sexual intercourse. It's the most popular ED prescription on the market. For some, it's also the most deadly.

Deaths associated with Viagra

Since 1998, there have been more than 500 deaths associated with the use of Viagra. In addition, over 1,400 patients have had adverse effects from using the drug, including cardiovascular, skin cancer and even blindness.

Who is at risk?

One of the side affects of Viagra is that it can lower your blood pressure. This can be dangerous for men who are taking nitrates for angina, which is a heart condition where there is not enough blood flow to the heart. Nitrates open (dilate) the arteries to the heart, which increases blood flow to the heart. Combining both Viagra and nitrates can cause a drastic drop in blood pressure and cause a heart attack. But potential risk can affect not just older men over 50 but younger men and those with no history of heart disease.

Pfizer's claim

Pfizer, who has made $15 billion in profit from the sale of Viagra, says the drug is completely safe, and they know of no known evidence that the drug causes any danger. However, when the drug was approved by the FDA, the approval was based on the results of the clinical trials for the drug which had mostly been tested on patients with low risk of cardiovascular problems.

The facts

According to Dr. Sanjay Kaul, cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who is part of a team analyzing adverse effects from Viagra, 88 percent of the deaths reported were individuals who were not taking nitrates. His study indicates there may be other increased risks, aside from nitrates, that cause adverse effects for some people taking Viagra.

Although the current warning on the label for Viagra focuses on patients with a history of heart disease, and the danger of combining Viagra with any form of nitrates, the drug should be used with caution and only under the supervision of a doctor.
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