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Wednesday, June 10, 1998 Published at 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK


Men 'don't care' about the risk of Viagra

Men are prepared to gamble for a good sex life

US authorities have confirmed that the death toll of men who have died after taking the impotence drug Viagra has risen to at least 16. Seven of the men died during or after sex.

Releasing details of the deaths, the US Food and Drug Administration stressed there was no evidence Viagra had caused the fatalities.

However, at least three of the men were on heart drugs known to cause potentially fatal interactions with Viagra. Mixing the drug with nitroglycerine or related nitrate-containing heart drugs can cause large drops in blood pressure.

Virtually every case involved men who had a substantial history of heart problems.

'Must have the drug'

The FDA has published details of the fatalities on its internet web site in a bid to persuade other men not to take unnecessary risks.

But doctors say if there is any risk, some men do not care.


[ image: Blood pressure can fall dramatically]
Blood pressure can fall dramatically
Dr Ira Sharlip, of San Francisco, an adviser on impotence to the Amercian Urological Association, said: "I've had a lot of patients say, 'If I have to go, that's the way I want to go out."

Dr William Steers, of the University of Virginia's urology unit, said: "I've taken prescriptions out of two patients' hands who lied about nitroglycerin because they wanted Viagra so badly.

"Men value sexuality over general health. They are going to have this regardless of the consequences."

Heart disease

Of those men who died, nine already had a history of heart disease - including previous heart attacks.

Because the FDA did not receive full medical information, there is no information about the medical history of six others, including four patients discovered through media reports. Ages ranged from 48 to 80; most were in their 60s and 70s.

FDA spokeswoman Lorrie McHugh said: "The bottom line is patients need to talk with their health care provider and read warning labels before taking this."

Manufacturer Pfizer has counted 1.7 million new Viagra prescriptions since it was approved for use in the US in March - 80% of them for men over age 50.

The cases included:

  • A 63-year-old man on drugs for diabetes and gout, and aspirin therapy with a history of high blood cholesterol, hypertension and irregular heart rate. He died one hour after taking medication and having sex of a stroke.

  • A 62-year-old diabetic man on medication for heart problems with a history of congestive heart failure and suffering from a dangerous lung inflammation. He died of a heart attack approximately half and hour after taking an initial dose of Viagra, without engaging in sex.

  • A diabetic man, 64, taking medication for heart and artery disease. He took one dose of Viagra, engaged in sexual activity and passed out, never to regain consciousness.

  • A 73-year-old man with a history of high blood pressure. He collapsed during sex after taking his second dose of Viagra. He died of a heart attack and stroke.

  • A 73-year-old man, who had previously had a heart attack, was hospitalised with chest pain and low blood pressure and malfunctioning of the heart's electrical impulses after taking Viagra.

  • A diabetic man, aged 48, had chest pains during sex. He was given nitroglycerin in the ambulance. Chest pain subsided, but the patient went into cardiac arrest.

  • A 74-year-old man taking drugs for diabetes and heart problems who died suddenly the morning after taking an evening dose of Viagra.

  • An 80-year-old man taking drugs for heart problems and an enlarged prostate who collapsed suddenly during sex.

  • A 70-year-old man on drugs for heart problems, high blood pressure and a hyeractive thyroid gland.

  • A 67-year-old man, taking an ACE inhibitor heart drug, a cholesterol drug, a blood pressure drug and aspirin. He died approximately 90 minutes after taking Viagra and engaging in sexual activity. Turned grey and had breathing problems.




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