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On call: Blood pressure medication and erections

Updated: January 01, 2007

On call

Blood pressure medication and erections

Q. I am 47 years old and I’ve just been diagnosed with high blood pressure. My doctor wants to put me on medication, but I’m worried that it will make me impotent. If I decide to take a drug, which would be best?

A. Your question raises several important issues.

First, you certainly should bring your blood pressure down. If you are otherwise healthy, 140/90 is a reasonable target, but it would be even better to bring it lower if you can do so without significant side effects. Over the long run, untreated hypertension will increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, and kidney damage. And it will also increase your risk of erectile dysfunction since the arteries in your penis are as vulnerable as those in your heart and brain. In fact, some of the erectile dysfunction attributed to blood pressure medication is actually due to hypertension itself.

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