Viagra and Cardiovascular Disease

J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Oct;4(4):259-267. doi: 10.1177/107424849900400407.


BACKGROUND: The introduction of the drug sildenafil (Viagra; Pfizer, New York, NY) into the armamentarium for treatment of erectile dysfunction is a major advance. Many of the patients who will benefit from its use have cardiovascular disease. Erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease share common risk factors. Although the metabolic demands of sexual activity are modest and the associated risk for coronary events is low, the clinician caring for cardiac patients needs to be aware of the pharmacology and hemodynamic profile of sildenafil in those with heart disease who use cardioactive drugs. METHODS AND RESULTS: We reviewed the current literature relating to the pharmacology, hemodynamic profile, efficacy, safety, and clinical application of sildenafil in patients with cardiovascular disease. Sildenafil is highly effective in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. The overall incidence of cardiovascular adverse events is low and similar to placebo. Current postmarketing data do not suggest an increase in cardiovascular death in sildenafil users. The drug is contraindicated in those taking organic nitrates. It should be used with caution and on an individual basis in patients who have active coronary ischemia and heart failure with tenous blood pressure and volume status. CONCLUSIONS: When used with discretion, sildenafil is safe, effective, and has the potential to greatly enhance quality of life in the relatively large proportion of the population with heart disease.