Commonly Used Erectile Dysfunction Medication Linked to Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: Study

A new laboratory study involving mice has found a link between a commonly used erectile dysfunction drug and abdominal aortic aneurysms. This new information has prompted scientists to indicate that additional research is needed to determine if the medication may have the same effect on people.

The medication in question, sildenafil, is commonly used to treat pulmonary hypertension and is widely prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction. The drug works by blocking the enzymes that regulate the contraction of the vascular smooth muscle cells.


An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a weakening or bulging in the lower aorta section that transports blood from the heart to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs. If a dissection occurs (a tear in the inner layer of the large blood vessel), it can lead to additional damage to the artery wall.

An abdominal aortic aneurysm rupture is a medical emergency that only approximately 20% of patients survive. These types of aneurysms occur more frequently in men with risk factors, including a family history of the condition, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, emphysema, and obesity.

The study published in the journal of the American Heart Association explored the impact of the progression of an abdominal aortic aneurysm when sildenafil was ingested in mice.

Small abdominal aortic aneurysms were surgically induced in the mice, and the size of their aortas was monitored. Aortic aneurysms were formed seven days after the surgery, and the mice were then randomly assigned to two groups for four weeks.

Half of the mice were given sildenafil diluted in water daily for four weeks, and the second group of mice received water that did not contain sildenafil.

After four weeks, the mice receiving sildenafil had larger abdominal aortic aneurysms that were about 37% wider on average. They also had approximately 50% more degradation or weakening of the elastic fibers in the abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Study author Chen Yan Ph.D. said, “Our study suggests that sildenafil aggravated the progression of abdominal aortic aneurysms likely through disrupting the smooth muscle cells’ ability to contract and function properly. These findings may raise caution about prescribing PDE5 inhibitors like sildenafil for patients who have existing aortic aneurysmal lesions. Clinical studies and other types of animal models of abdominal aortic aneurysm may be warranted to study this further.”

A Growing Concern


Men’s health is a growing concern among many as they age. It is vital to know what medications can be dangerous if you have pre-existing conditions, so studies such as this are essential in helping physicians prescribe the proper medications to their clients.

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Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.