We have a new, firm warning from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists to the millions of guys taking erectile dysfunction drugs who are heading into surgery: When combined with anesthesia, medications such as Viagra (sildenafil), Levitra (vardenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) can cause a dangerously severe drop in blood pressure. That's because ED meds contain—and promote the body's own ability to produce—nitric oxide. Nitric oxide opens blood vessels and relaxes muscles, making it much easier for erections to occur. Adding anesthesia and other medications used during surgery to the blood-vessel dilating actions of an ED med can increase those effects.
Since the average American male can expect to undergo more than nine surgical procedures during his lifetime, and a growing number of ED pills are dispensed to men in the U.S. (annually it's around 1.2 million Viagra and almost 3.6 million Cialis), this is a warning lots of guys need to take seriously. We also predict that when generic Viagra is available this December, there will be a big increase in the size of the market—and an increased risk for the one-two punch of ED drugs and anesthesia.
If you're taking an ED medication and headed for surgery:
Stop taking ED drugs 48 hours before the procedure; that will allow the drug to clear your system.
Presurgery: Alert your anesthesiologist to all medications and supplements you're taking, including ED meds. Your emergency contact also should know to tell medical staff about any ED drug use.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.