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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 00:28 GMT
Blood pressure drugs 'improve sex'
A blood pressure medication could improve sex lives
The latest drugs aimed at treating high blood pressure may have a welcome side-effect - improving sexual function in men.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can accelerate the hardening of arteries, which can trigger heart disease.

This helps debunk the myth that impotence is caused by high blood pressure drug

Dr Carlos Ferrario
However, it can also lead to difficulties with sexual function, and men who have heart and blood pressure problems may not always be suitable to be treated with anti-impotence drugs such as Viagra.

Some hypertension medication is also reputed to make sexual dysfunction worse.

But a new drug, losartan, has in tests, produced remarkable results in hypertensive men who had reported some sort of physical sexual problem.

After 12 weeks of treatment, 88% of men taking part in a trial in Spain said they had experienced an improvement in their sex lives.

The number of men reporting impotence dropped from three quarters of the sample to 11.8%.

The number reporting overall sexual satisfaction increased from 7.3% to 58.5%, while three quarters said they had an improved quality of life.

Could work on women

Tentative results also suggest that the improved sexual function may not be restricted to hypertensive males, but could also apply to women as well.

Dr Carlos Ferrario, of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, told a conference of the American Heart Association that the new drug represented a solution for some patients.

He said: "These results suggest a possible solution for people who have stopped taking blood pressure medicines because they interfere with sexual function.

"In addition to controlling blood pressure as well or better than other medications, losartan seems to have a positive effect on sexuality."

There was no improvement in sexual function in men who had not reported any problems.

The drug works by blocking a hormone called angiotensin, which causes high blood pressure.

The results, said Dr Ferrario, represented more evidence that angiotensin contributes to sexual dysfunction.

"This helps debunk the myth that impotence is caused by high blood pressure drugs. In fact, it appears that sexual dysfunction is part of the hypertension disease process."

The precise way the drug helps sufferers is not clear, although Dr Ferrario believes that it may act on blood vessels in the penis which have been damaged by constant high blood pressure.

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See also:

15 Mar 00 | Health
Heart drug impotence warning
28 Sep 99 | Health
Public ignorant on blood pressure
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