JAN 31, 2018 10:02 AM PST

Erectile Function Not Impacted by Heart Meds

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is often believed by men to be a side effect of drugs prescribed to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which promote the development of heart disease. But a new study from scientists at McMaster University in Canada examining the effects of such drugs finds that men taking them have nothing to worry about.

As men grow older, ED become more common. It affects 40 percent of men older than 50 and can be a sign of health problems like vascular disease or nerve damage from diabetes. For men with both ED and heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the idea that the medications they take to treat these risk factors are causing their ED is apparently a misconception.

"Previous research suggests that cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol increase the risk of ED, but there has been little research examining whether modifying these risk factors can impact its development," explained lead investigator Philip Joseph, MD.

In Joseph’s new study, he examined the impact of statins, which lower cholesterol, and a combination drug called candesartan/Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), which lower blood pressure, on erectile function. HCTZ is a diuretic drug (it prevents too much salt absorption) and candesartan is an “angiotensin II receptor antagonist” which means that it improves blood flow by preventing narrowing of the blood vessels. Together, these two drugs treat high blood pressure.

Researchers conducted their study in two thousand men with three experimental groups: men taking a drug called rosuvastatin to lower cholesterol, men taking candesartan/HCTZ to lower blood pressure, and men taking both. Each group was compared to its own placebo control group. The control groups were given placebos - pills with no actual medication in them - to factor in a phenomenon that sometimes occurs, the placebo effect. This is where study subjects taking a placebo feel like they are getting better or having a desirable effect because they believe they are taking medicine. Neither the study subjects nor the study researchers knew which participants received the placebo and which received the actual drugs.

Each participant filled out an erectile function questionnaire, “The International Index of Erectile Function,” which is a validated survey to assess erectile function. They completed the questionnaire at the beginning of the study and after an average follow-up of about six years.

The results were straightforward; none of the men taking any combination of drugs reported a significant change in erectile function compared to each placebo control group.

"Men who develop ED while on such medications commonly attribute their symptoms to the medications,” Joseph said. “Our findings suggest that these two medications do not negatively impact erectile function, which should be reassuring to men who are taking them."

The present study was published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology.

Sources: Everyday Health, MedlinePlus.gov, Elsevier

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 02, 2020
Cardiology
Managing the Mitochondria After a Heart Attack
JUL 02, 2020
Managing the Mitochondria After a Heart Attack
Heart attacks are an unfortunately common occurrence across the country. One of the biggest consequences of a heart atta ...
JUL 04, 2020
Cardiology
Discovering a New Signal Junction Controlling Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
JUL 04, 2020
Discovering a New Signal Junction Controlling Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) is a progressive and fatal disease characterized by the muscularization of blood c ...
AUG 25, 2020
Cardiology
Doing More with Less: Making the Diagnosis of Heart Damage Easier for Patients
AUG 25, 2020
Doing More with Less: Making the Diagnosis of Heart Damage Easier for Patients
Cardiovascular health can be a tricky thing to diagnose. Sometimes it can be done with simple heart rate and blood press ...
SEP 08, 2020
Cardiology
Fixing Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Repair
SEP 08, 2020
Fixing Stem Cell Therapy for Heart Repair
Repairing the damage done by a heart attack has been of keen interest for decades. Some researchers think protecting the ...
SEP 22, 2020
Cardiology
Mosquito-Borne Illnesses are Linked to Stroke
SEP 22, 2020
Mosquito-Borne Illnesses are Linked to Stroke
Mosquitoes are major disease vectors; they are considered the world's deadliest animal because they kill so many people.
OCT 04, 2020
Cardiology
The Genetics of Body Fat May Shape Health Risks
OCT 04, 2020
The Genetics of Body Fat May Shape Health Risks
The work may help explain why men and women are at risk for different diseases and often respond to different treatments ...
Loading Comments...