Viagra `a danger even for fit men'

VIAGRA may pose risks to older men who are apparently healthy and not just to those with heart problems, researchers report today.

Doctors describe the case of a 65-year-old man who experienced acute chest pain half an hour after taking one 50mg pill. He was taken to hospital where an ECG showed he had suffered a heart attack, but after being treated with drugs he made a full recovery.

Researchers from the Drug Safety Unit in Rijswijk in the Netherlands, who report the case in The Lancet, say it is worrying because the man had none of the risk factors for a heart attack such as high blood pressure, diabetes or previous heart disease.

He did not smoke and was only an occasional drinker. The attack cannot have been triggered by sexual exertion - a common cause of heart attacks - because he had not attempted sexual intercourse when the chest pains began.

"The close temporal relation between ingesting sildenafil [the chemical name for Viagra] and the onset of severe chest pain due to acute myocardial infarction [heart attack] ... suggests that sildenafil was causally related," they say.

Although there have been many anecdotal reports of men suffering heart disorders after taking Viagra, including 69 deaths in the United States linked to it, the reports contained no details of the patients' health before taking the drug, The Lancet says.

Figures released by the US Food and Drug Administration earlier this month showed that 46 of the 69 had heart attacks and two had strokes. In the remaining 21 the cause of death was unknown. The average age of those who died was 64.

The FDA, responsible for licensing the drug in the US, said it had not changed its view of the drug's safety but would continue to evaluate the need for regulatory action. Warning labels tell users to avoid nitrates, a common medicine for heart problems, because of the known risk of interaction.

However, the Dutch researchers say that the number of men involved in trials of Viagra before licensing was low compared to the expected demand. "Some adverse reactions may be disclosed only when large numbers of men are exposed," they say.

They admit that they cannot rule out any pre-existing heart disease in the patient, but having no symptoms he appeared healthy, and would not have been picked up in any screening process.

They also suggest a mechanism by which the drug may cause heart attacks. Viagra is known to trigger headache, flushing and nasal congestion as a result of dilation of the peripheral blood vessels - the mechanism which also results in erection of the penis. However, the effect of redistributing blood to peripheral parts of the body away from the heart "may have undermined adequate coronary perfusion and led to myocardial infarction".

A spokesman for Pfizer, the manufacturer of Viagra, said the company would follow up the case and all other reports of adverse reactions. He added: "It has never been established that Viagra was causally related to any death."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower