Why Patients with Sickle Cell Disease Shouldn’t Take Viagra

This drug, able to handle male impotence, has transformed the sexual behavior of millions over the last eighteen years. Nothing but shame and the end of even the most strong relationships as recently as in the 1990s, impotence has now become an annoying and somewhat embarrassing yet remediable malfunction thanks to only one little blue pill. Viagra was put on sale in 1998, and since then more than 300 million men all over the world have been prescribed it. Pervasive advertising has turned this drug into a magical wand that comes to the rescue anytime a man happens to have problems in bed. But it should be remembered that Viagra is a medicine, and, like any other drugs, it has indications and contraindications. 

What Is Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate) For?

A condition when a man faces a difficulty with getting an erection is called an erectile dysfunction (ED) or impotence. The sad data indicates that around 120 million of men worldwide have suffered from this disorder at least once. It occurs when there is not enough blood flowing to the penis, and 40-year-old (and older) men have more chances of developing some degree of ED. Apart from certain psychological moments, this disorder is typically caused by a chronic disease, extra weight, injury or side effects of other medication, treating high blood pressure or heart issues. Depression, stress and anxiety can also lead to ED, as well as cigarette and alcohol abuse, affecting blood circulation.

If the latter is the case, changing your lifestyle is the best strategy to address the problem, but those men who have an injury or can’t stop taking a particular drug for any reason, may require help and eventually resort to Viagra.

This drug works by increasing and sustaining blood flow to the penis, which helps keep the erection. Though results differ individually, Viagra typically takes effect 20 – 50 minutes after the administration. It should be taken into account that Viagra doesn’t belong to aphrodisiacs, meaning it doesn’t stimulate a sexual drive. For it to work, you need to be sexually aroused. The effect normally fades away in four hours, but if your erection lasts longer than this, contact your doctor, as a sustained erection can cause penis damage. It’s not recommended to take Viagra more than one time a day.

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?

However, not everyone can use this drug, and people suffering from sickle cell disease (SCD) are in the main group of risk. SCD is a red blood cell disorder, resulting in abnormal hemoglobin, also known as hemoglobin S or sickle hemoglobin. Sickle cell disease isn’t contagious and is passed from parents to children. There are different forms of this disease, and sickle cell anemia is the most severe one.

SCD gives normally disc-shaped red blood cells a sickle contour, forming rods inside cells that block the supply of the oxygen to the body tissues. Such transformed cells are inflexible and can stick to vessel walls, leading to a clog that slows down or even completely stops the blood flow. It results in the lack of oxygen in tissues, causing pain attacks and even organ damage. SCD is a life-long condition, with different types of severity.

Since Viagra works by affecting your blood flow, SCD patients can’t take it, as it may cause a sudden drop in blood pressure to a dangerous level. As a result, you may feel unwell, experience dizziness, lose consciousness or even have a heart attack.

Viagra Isn’t For Everyone

Above mentioned SCD isn’t the only reason for some men to refuse Viagra. Only a medical specialist can prescribe you this drug, so before considering Viagra, consult your doctor, provide all the information about your current medication, if any, and have the necessary tests.

Patients with the following conditions will be advised to avoid taking Viagra or take a specially adjusted dose under medical supervision:

  • History of a heart attack, stroke or heart failure
  • Angina
  • Heart surgery within the last 4 months
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Change in blood pressure
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Kidney failure
  • Leukemia
  • Peyronie’s disease or another penis deformity

In case you are currently undergoing or have recently undergone a therapy implying administration of other anti-impotence drugs, nitrate drugs, guanylate cyclase stimulators, alpha-blockers, HIV protease inhibitors, or are allergic to any Viagra ingredients, your doctor must know about it.

If you start taking Viagra without a prior consultation or hide some important health-related information, you may expect serious side effects, such as priapism (prolonged erection), non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (sudden vision loss), and sudden hearing failure or loss. In the case of any of these symptoms, stop taking Viagra and seek medical attention immediately.

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