Health In Focus
  • Patients who had heart attacks often suffer from impotence/erectile dysfunction
  • Drugs for erectile dysfunction such as sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil can lower the blood pressure in heart disease patients who take nitrates
  • Erectile dysfunction drugs may be safe and even beneficial in heart attack patients

Treatment with the erectile dysfunction drugs like sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil may reduce the risk of death or hospitalization following a heart attack. A study indicating the same was published in the BMJ Heart and is being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session in Washington.
Impotence Drugs may be Safe in Heart Patients

Impotence or erectile dysfunction can have a major psychological impact on the patient. The introduction of the drug sildenafil was a major breakthrough in its treatment. Sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil belong to a group of drugs called phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors. They relax blood vessels and increase blood supply to the penis, resulting in an erection. The pills have the ability to reduce blood pressure excessively and their use is not advised in heart patients who take nitrates like isosorbide nitrate for angina or heart attack.

Erectile dysfunction often precedes heart disease. The research team analyzed medical reports of patients from the Swedish national database of health records who received treatment for erectile dysfunction following their first heart attack. Most patients (92%) received a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor while around 8% received alprostadil, a prostaglandin analogue also used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. The records were assessed for a period of 3.3 years. They found that:
  • Those who received PDE5 inhibitors were 38% less likely to die as compared to those taking alprostadil or no erectile dysfunction drugs
  • The benefit was greater in those who filled more prescriptions for PDE5 inhibitors
  • Men who took either PDE5 inhibitors or alprostadil were 40 percent less likely to undergo hospitalization for heart failure as compared to those who did not take any medication for erectile dysfunction
  • The intake of these medications did not affect the risk of suffering from another heart attack or undergoing a procedure like cardiac bypass or angiography
This study suggests that drugs like sildenafil are safe and may, in fact, benefit people with a heart disease, with subsequent hospitalization and death.

The study authors, however, admit to some limitations to the study, which includes:
  • It is possible that those who wanted treatment for erectile dysfunction were healthier and therefore had lesser mortality
  • The better heart health in those taking erectile dysfunction drugs could be due to a more active sex life, rather than due to the medications
  • Various factors like marital status and household income were not taken into consideration, which could affect the outcome of the study
Therefore, currently, the results of the study should also be viewed with caution. The safety of these drugs in heart attack patients is still not clear. A larger study could help to establish the benefits of these medications, if any, in patients with heart diseases.

References :
  1. "Association between Erectile Dysfunction and Death or Cardiovascular Outcomes after Myocardial Infarction," on Friday, March 17, at 1:30 p.m. ET at Poster Hall C at the American College of Cardiology's 66th Annual Scientific Session in Washington.
  2. Andersson DP, Lagerros YT, Grotta A, Bellocco R, Lehtihet M, Holzmann MJ. Association between treatment for erectile dysfunction and death or cardiovascular outcomes after myocardial infarction.
Source: Medindia

Most Popular on Medindia