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Viagra® (sildenafil)

Viagra (sildenafil) is an oral medication used to treat male sexual function problems, i.e. impotence or erectile dysfunction, by blocking the enzyme phosphodiesterase-PDE5 in the body. In combination with sexual stimulation, Viagra works by helping blood flow into the penis to achieve and maintain an erection.

Why is Viagra prescribed?

Viagra is prescribed to treat male erectile dysfunction, or impotence. Manufactured by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Viagra enhances the effects of chemicals the body normally releases into the penis during sexual arousal, allowing an increase of blood flow into the penis for sexual activity.

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What are the FDA approved uses for Viagra?

Viagra was approved by the FDA in 1998 to treat erectile dysfunction in men for increased and/or elongated sexual activity.

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What are the side effects of Viagra?

Common side effects associated with Viagra include headache, flushing, stomach upset, heartburn, nasal stuffiness, diarrhea, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Vision changes such as increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or impaired blue/green color discrimination may also occur.

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Viagra warnings and alerts

In 2005, the FDA notified healthcare professionals of updated labeling for Viagra to reflect post-marketing reports of sudden vision loss attributed to NAION (non arteritic ischemic optic neuropathy), a condition where blood flow is blocked to the optic nerve. Viagra has also been reported to cause blood pressure to drop to an unsafe level if it is taken with any nitrate medication or with any alpha-blocker medication. Further complications can include hypotension, myocardial infarction, ventricular arrhythmias, sudden death, and stroke.

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Viagra drug contradictions

Viagra is contraindicated in patients who take nitrates (e.g., nitroglycerin, isosorbide), nitroprusside (or any “nitric oxide donor” drugs), recreational drugs called “poppers” containing amyl or butyl nitrite, and any alpha-blocker medication (e.g., doxazosin, prazosin, terazosin) due to the risk of serious, and often fatal, side effects. Patients should also avoid drinking grapefruit juice while taking Viagra, as it may increase the level of medicine in the blood and increase the risk of side effects.

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Viagra FAQs

What Are the Causes of Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Any health condition that interferes with the blood flow to the penis may lead to ED. Men with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes are at greater risk for ED than men who do not have these conditions.

Many other medical, physical, and lifestyle issues can also affect a man’s ability to get or maintain an erection, including:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity
  • Heavy drinking
  • Side effects from medication
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Prostate surgery

Are there people who are at a higher risk for NAION?

People who have a higher chance for NAION include those who:

  • Have heart disease
  • Are over 50 years old
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Smoke
  • Have certain eye problems

How Does High Cholesterol Contribute to Erectile Dysfunction?

The risk of ED is nearly two times greater in men with total cholesterol levels above 240 than in men with total cholesterol levels below 180. If there is too much cholesterol in your body, it sticks to the walls of the arteries. When cholesterol builds up, it creates a smaller opening for blood to pass through. This leads to less blood flow to the penis, which can create erectile problems.

How Does High Blood Pressure Contribute to Erectile Dysfunction?

High blood pressure is high pressure (tension) in the arteries. Arteries are the “pipes” that carry blood from the pumping heart to all of the tissues and organs of the body. When blood pressure is high (140/90 mm Hg or over) for a long time, these “pipes” get stiff or narrow, which keeps the blood from flowing easily throughout the body. Blood flow is critical to healthy erectile function.

Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Viagra?

Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Emotional distress

If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Viagra, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Viagra lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.

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