Men who take erectile dysfunction pills are also 40 percent less likely to be hospitalized with consequent heart failure
Taking Viagra after a heart attack reduces the risk of premature death of any disease by one third, according to a study.
It also reduces the chances of being hospitalized for subsequent heart failure by 40 percent.
The researchers looked at medical records of more than 43,000 men aged 80 or younger who were admitted to the hospital for a first heart attack.
They tracked their health for an average of 3 years 4 months, tracking their prescriptions.
The prescribed PDE5 inhibitors – the type of erectile dysfunction drug sold as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis – were 33 percent less likely to die.
No survival benefit was observed among men taking alprostadil, another type of erectile dysfunction drug that works differently.
Dr. Daniel Peter Andersson of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden said: “If you have an active sex life after a heart attack, it is probably safe to use PDE5 inhibitors.
“This type of erectile dysfunction treatment is beneficial in terms of prognosis, and having an active sex life seems to be a marker for a lower risk of death.
“We believe that if you have an active sex life is probably an indicator of a healthy lifestyle, especially in the oldest quartile – 70 to 80 years old.
“From a physician’s perspective, if a patient asks about erectile dysfunction drugs after a heart attack and has no contraindications for PDE5 inhibitors, based on these results, he can feel safe in prescribing it.”
Dr. Andersson said the results came as a surprise because erectile dysfunction is associated with an increased risk of heart disease in healthy men.
The findings – presented at a conference of the American College of Cardiology in Washington DC, USA – show no direct cause and effect.
The use of erectile dysfunction drugs may indicate a more active sex life, which could contribute to or be a marker of a healthy lifestyle for the heart.
Professor Metin Avkiran of the British Heart Foundation said: “There are two striking aspects to the results of this study.
“Contrary to what has been reported previously in healthy men, erectile dysfunction appears to be associated with a lower risk of death or hospitalization for heart failure in patients who have had a heart attack.
Viagra-like medications were initially developed for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, before they were found to aid in erectile dysfunction
“In these patients, the use of Viagra-like drugs also appears to reduce the risk of death.
“This is particularly interesting since this class of drug, known as an inhibitor of PDE5, acts on blood vessels and was initially developed for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, before it was found to have benefits in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
“However, because of the way this study was conducted, it is not possible to conclude that the drug, rather than the patient’s lifestyle, was the cause of the lower risk of death.
“The general advice for patients with cardiovascular disease and erectile dysfunction remains that they should discuss with their GP the risks and benefits of PDE5 inhibitors.”