Doctors: Viagra Could Hide Signs of Heart Trouble - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Doctors: Viagra Could Hide Signs of Heart Trouble

A warning for men who take Viagra and other impotence drugs: They could be hiding one of the first symptoms of a much bigger problem.

An estimated 35 million men have used Viagra and other impotence drugs.

Similar drugs Levitra and Cialis are also popular.

They're all used to treat erectile dysfunction, or ED.

But urologist Dr. Edward Karpman warns men with ED not to immediately take these pills because patients may have a bigger problem: Heart disease.

"We know men who do have ed are almost 50 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease," Dr. Karpman explained.

He says the underlying risk factors for ED, smoking, obesity, hypertension and diabetes, are the same risk factors for heart disease.

"There's plenty of published studies out there showing that men will go on to develop coronary artery disease one to seven years after the first onset of erectile dysfunction," Dr. Karpman said.

Cardiologist Dr. Ramtin Agah says when men in their 40s and 50s take an impotence drug they may be covering up the only warning sign they may get.

"You're not really being fully treated for it, you're just being treated for some of the symptoms and the underlying problem is going to progress and manifest itself in a bigger way, unfortunately either as a heart attack or a stroke. Early on, if these warning signs had been paid attention to,  potentially, we could avert that," he explained.

Many men are too embarrassed to admit, even to their doctors they even have ED, so they go online to buy impotence drugs.

There's no shortage of sellers.

A Google search and finds 20-million websites selling Viagra, and some did not require a prescription.

"You really don't know what you're getting, you could be getting after market drugs, you could be getting expired medications you could be getting counterfeit medications," Dr. Karpman warned.

Still, Dr. Karpman says he's more concerned if a man gets a drug on his own to treat ED, he'll never tell his doctor about his problem, ignoring a critical warning sign that could save his life.

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