Effect of sildenafil citrate on the cardiovascular system

Braz J Med Biol Res. 2005 Sep;38(9):1303-11. doi: 10.1590/s0100-879x2005000900003. Epub 2005 Aug 26.


Sildenafil citrate is a drug commonly used to manage erectile dysfunction. It is designated chemically as 1-[[3-(6,7-dihydro-1-methyl-7-oxo-3-propyl-1H -pyrazolo[4,3-d]pyrimidin-5-yl)-4 ethoxyphenyl] sulfonyl]-4-methylpiperazine citrate (C22H30N6(O4)S). It is a highly selective inhibitor of cyclic guanine monophosphate-specific phosphodiesterase type 5. In late March through mid-November 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a report on 130 confirmed deaths among men (mean age, 64 years) who received prescriptions for sildenafil citrate, a period during which >6 million outpatient prescriptions (representing about 50 million tablets) were dispensed. The US FDA recently reported that significant cardiovascular events, including sudden cardiac death, have occurred in men with erectile dysfunction who were taking sildenafil citrate. These reports have raised concerns that sildenafil citrate may increase the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly fatal arrhythmias, in patients with cardiovascular disease. In the past few years, the cardiac electrophysiological effects of sildenafil citrate have been investigated extensively in both animal and clinical studies. According to extensive data available to date, sildenafil citrate has been shown to pose minimal cardiovascular risks to healthy people taking this drug. Some precautions are needed for patients with cardiovascular diseases. However, the only absolute contraindication for sildenafil citrate is the concurrent use of nitrates. This article is intended to review sildenafil citrate's cardiovascular effects, as well as current debates about its arrhythmogenic effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / chemically induced*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Erectile Dysfunction / complications
  • Erectile Dysfunction / drug therapy*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Contraction / drug effects
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Piperazines / adverse effects
  • Piperazines / pharmacology*
  • Purines
  • Risk Factors
  • Sildenafil Citrate
  • Sulfones
  • Vasodilator Agents / adverse effects*
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use


  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Piperazines
  • Purines
  • Sulfones
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Sildenafil Citrate