What Comes Afterward
For men suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED), being able to take a drug such as Levitra has been a godsend. The condition that for many years was called “impotence” always has been difficult to treat and hard to cure. Since the late 1990s, oral medications have been available that have been the answer to many with the problem. But the questions remain: “How long can someone take the drug?” “Does it remain effective after long-term use?” “Will taking Levitra have any lasting effects on a user’s general health?”
The quick answer to those questions is that no one is sure what the long-term effects might be. Since Levitra, and Cialis, a medication similar in use and pharmacology, have only been on the market since 2003, there simply is no data on long-term effects.
What is Known
Most of the information about the longer term effects of type 5 phosphodiesterase (PDE-5) inhibitors (the class of drug that includes ED treatment medications such as Levitra, Cialas, and Viagra) come from men who have used Viagra, since it was first to hit the market in 1998. The most disturbing of these reports is that a number of cardiac-related deaths have occurred.
Reports of Deaths
Almost as soon as reports of the drug’s popularity started rolling in, so did reports of men who suffered heart attacks soon after taking it. Most of those who died were younger than 65 and had no history of heart disease. While it was known that PDE-5 inhibitors could have interactions with medications used to treat heart disease and high blood pressure, the deaths of younger men who were not taking those medications was something of a mystery.
More than 50 such cases were reported in 1998, the year Viagra hit the market, and that number had risen to more than 500 worldwide by the year 2000. The reports prompted something of a backlash but have done little to quell the popularity of the drug.
More recently, scientists researching the deaths have reported that the cause might be in the nature of the drug itself. Originally PDE-5 inhibitors were developed to treat heart disease because they relaxed blood vessel muscles and allowed increased blood flow. They also were thought to break up platelets in the blood. What the researchers found was that the opposite seemed to be true; sildenafil caused a clumping of platelets which then caused the heart attacks.
Even taking the deaths into account, doctors have not proposed taking the drug off the market nor have they issued similar warnings for those using Levitra. In the real world there have been few, if any, deaths linked to using Levitra. Again, the drug has not been on the market long enough for there to be a track record of its long-term effects.
The decision on how long to remain on an ED treatment plan centered on Levitra should be made in consultation with a physician. There are a number of treatments for ED aside from oral tablets, including penile injections, implants, and vacuum devices. A doctor might recommend a combination of treatments, not relying solely on the oral medication. Some men have complained they are uncomfortable having to rely on drugs to have sex.
Also, the age and health of the man taking Levitra is a consideration. The drug does increase blood flow and that could have consequences over the long term. On one internet pharmacy, one can order 500 Levitra tablets for $1,000, enough to last nearly two years based on dosage guidelines, but it should up to a doctor to make the decision to stay on that treatment plan for that long.