Levitra (vardenafil) is an oral prescription medication used to treat men with mild to severe erectile dysfunction (ED) by blocking the enzyme phosphodiesterase-PDE5. In combination with sexual stimulation, Levitra works by helping the blood flow into the penis to achieve and maintain an erection.
Levitra is prescribed to treat male sexual function problems (impotence/erectile dysfunction) by blocking phosphodiesterase-PDE5. Levitra acts to relax muscles in the penis and blood vessels, allowing increased blood flow into the penis, which produces an erection.
Levitra was approved by the FDA in 2003 for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.
Side effects most commonly associated with Levitra include headache, flushing, nasal stuffiness, stomach upset, heartburn, runny nose, dizziness, and nausea. Vision changes such as increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or impaired blue/green color discrimination may also occur. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include rash, itching, unusual swelling, severe dizziness, and trouble breathing.
In 2005, the FDA notified healthcare professionals of updated labeling for Levitra 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. Levitra 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.
Levitra 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 Levitra, as it may increase the level of medicine in the blood and increase the risk of side effects.
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:
- Lack of exercise
- Heavy drinking
- Side effects from medication
- Lack of sleep
- Spinal cord injury
- Prostate surgery
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.
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
- Have certain eye problems
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Levitra?
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 Levitra, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Levitra 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.