Medicines for Erection Problems: Reactions With Nitrate

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Medicines for Erection Problems: Reactions With Nitrate

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Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra), have revolutionized the treatment of erection problems (erectile dysfunction). But they can cause life-threatening side effects for anyone who also takes nitroglycerin or another medicine containing an organic nitrate. This combination can make your blood pressure fall too low, possibly leading to a stroke, a heart attack, or death. Do not take nitrate-containing medicines up to 24 hours after you take sildenafil (Viagra) or vardenafil (Levitra), or up to 48 hours after you take tadalafil (Cialis).

Medicines that contain organic nitrates include:

  • Nitroglycerin (such as Minitran, Nitro-Dur, Nitrolingual, Nitrostat).
  • Isosorbide (such as Imdur, ISDN).
  • Nitroprusside (such as Nipride).
  • Amyl nitrite or amyl nitrate (sometimes called "poppers"), which are sometimes abused.

Nitrates found in foods are not a danger when taking phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Andrew Swan, MD, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher G. Wood, MD, FACS - Urology, Oncology
Last Revised July 13, 2010

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