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Viagra May Cause Heart Attack Deaths In Younger Men With No Heart Problems, Study Finds

Viagra pillMarch 14, 2000. Viagra, commonly prescribed by doctors to treat male erectile dysfunction, is turning up too often at the scene of heart attack death in relatively young men. Some men may be vulnerable to heart attack after taking this drug, made by Pfizer. That is not known, but the drug itself is beginning to look like more than a bystander in the deaths.

Some men who have died after taking Viagra were elderly and on heart medication. But a study reported March 14 finds that more men who have died were under age sixty-five. Most of the deaths have occurred within a few hours of taking the drug. Most of the men took the standard dose. Most of the men had no reported heart problems. Although some men who died were taking nitrates as well as Viagra, men who were not taking nitrates died at a higher rate.

This new evidence comes from post-marketing adverse event reports about Viagra made to the FDA. Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles analyzed these reports and found that there "appears to be a high number of deaths and serious cardiovascular events associated with the use of Viagra." They presented the study March 14 at the meeting of the American College of Cardiologists in Anaheim, CA.

In an analysis of 1,473 major adverse events recorded in these reports about Viagra to the FDA, 522 people died, most of them from cardiovascular causes. According to the study's senior author, Dr. Kaul, the majority of deaths were associated with standard Viagra dosages (70 percent of the deaths were associated with the 50 mg dose). The deaths were due to cardiovascular causes and appeared to be clustered around the time of dosing (two thirds of deaths in which the time from ingestion to death was reported, occurred within 4-5 hours of taking Viagra). The majority of deaths occurred in patients who were less than 65 years of age, and who had no reported cardiac risk factors.

The study confirmed the well-documented increased risk with combined use of nitrates and Viagra. Of 90 patients who suffered major heart events while taking Viagra on top of nitrates, death occurred in about 68 percent, and when myocardial infarction was counted, the number of major cardiovascular events in that group rose to 88 percent.

However, the study found that most deaths (88 percent) actually occurred in patients who were not taking nitrates, leading investigators to speculate whether there are some susceptible individuals who don't need nitrates to unmask the harmful effects of Viagra.


Updates, related

Viagra May Shield the Heart from Damage from High Blood Pressure

"The findings help explain why sildenafil has already been shown to improve heart function and may one day have value in either treating or preventing heart damage due to chronic high blood pressure." January 5, 2009

Viagra passes initial UK safety test, more research needed March 18, 2001

Vioxx Cardiotoxicity and Clinical Trials of Celebrex for Cancer Patients
Nov 10, 2004

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