Viagra and Blood Pressure: What Should You be Aware of?

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
19th November 2020

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If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, this may be a sign that you also have high blood pressure (hypertension), a common condition that can lead to restricted blood flow to the penis and impact your ability to achieve an erection.

ED medications like Viagra can often be taken safely at the same time as blood pressure medicines, but you should always consult your prescriber before use.

Making changes to your lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet and reducing alcohol consumption, can help to treat ED and high blood pressure.

Men who are suffering from low blood pressure should seek medical advice before taking Viagra. 

High blood pressure (hypertension) affects around a third of adults in the UK. Many people don’t realise that they have high blood pressure, as it often doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms. However, if it’s not treated it can lead to more serious health conditions, including heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED), this can be a warning sign of high blood pressure, and you may want to have your blood pressure checked. The two conditions are closely connected because they’re both related to the health of your circulatory system: a firm erection depends on sufficient blood flow to the penis.

The good news is that ED and high blood pressure are both treatable. In this article, we look at the lifestyle changes that can help improve your erections and your blood pressure levels. We also discuss whether an ED medication, such as Viagra (Sildenafil), can be taken alongside medication for high blood pressure.  

Erectile Dysfunction and High Blood Pressure: How are they Linked?

An erection is the result of a chain of chemical reactions in your body that begins when you become sexually aroused. Enzymes transmit signals to the blood vessels in your penis, causing them to relax and expand so that blood can flow in. As a result, your penis becomes firm and ready for sexual activity.

When you have high blood pressure, however, this puts a strain on your circulatory system. Over time, the lining of your blood vessels can be damaged and your arteries can harden and become narrow, restricting blood flow. This then prevents enough blood entering your penis to achieve a hard, lasting erection.

Research has found that men suffering from ED are 38% more likely to have high blood pressure, so there’s a good chance that tackling your high blood pressure could help your erections too.

Can I Take High Blood Pressure Medications and Viagra (Sildenafil) Together?

Probably the best-known treatment for ED is the “little blue pill”, Viagra (generic name Sildenafil, after its active ingredient sildenafil citrate). Viagra, along with Cialis (Tadalafil) and Levitra, belongs to a group of drugs called Phosphodiesterase 5 or PDE5 inhibitors. These work by blocking the activity of the enzyme PDE5, preventing it from disrupting the other enzymes that are busy bringing about the increased blood flow to your penis.

There are a number of medications used to treat high blood pressure, and generally these can be taken safely alongside Viagra. In fact, Viagra (under the brand name Revatio) is used to treat pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels supplying the lungs. 

Important note: Before taking Viagra, or another ED medication, alongside medication for high blood pressure, it’s important to discuss your situation with your prescriber. You’ll need to provide full details of any existing health conditions and any medicines you’re taking, to make sure that you get the right treatment.

Some high blood pressure medications, such as diuretics and beta-blockers, have been linked to an increased risk of ED. So if you’re already experiencing ED, you may be prescribed another medication, such as ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, or alpha-blockers, which have a lower risk of sexual side effects.

Lifestyle Changes to Treat ED and High Blood Pressure

Along with medical treatment, you may also be able to improve your ED and lower your blood pressure by making some of the same lifestyle changes. For example, smoking tobacco and high alcohol consumption both increase the risk of ED and high blood pressure, so quitting or cutting down can be a real boost to your health and wellbeing.

Other lifestyle changes you could make to achieve healthy blood pressure levels include:

  • Eating a low-salt diet with plenty of fruit and veg
  • Taking regular exercise
  • Losing any excess weight
  • Reducing the amount of caffeine you drink (coffee, tea, etc.)

A healthy lifestyle won’t only help you improve your blood pressure and get your erections back on track; it should give you more energy to enjoy sex, too.

Can I Take Viagra (Sildenafil) if I Have Low Blood Pressure?

While we’ve focused on the link between ED and high blood pressure, it’s also possible to have low blood pressure (hypotension) and experience erection problems. In that situation, your prescriber may advise an alternative treatment, as Viagra can cause your blood pressure to drop further one or two hours after swallowing the tablet.  

In addition, it is unsafe to take Viagra if you are also taking medicines called nitrates, which are usually prescribed to treat chest pain. This is because the interaction between nitrates and sildenafil citrate can cause a dangerous drop in your blood pressure levels and lead to further health complications.

Viagra (Sildenafil)

The little blue pill

It’s the active ingredient in Viagra. MHRA approved and clinically proven to be highly effective by increasing blood flow into the penis.


Best for
One off use
Effective in
8 out of 10 men
Dosage
50 to 100mg

Key Takeaways…

Erectile dysfunction (ED) and high blood pressure are two closely connected conditions. If you experience ED then this may be a sign that your blood pressure is too high, and it’s important to get your blood pressure levels checked out.

Many men are able to take Viagra (Sildenafil) to treat their ED at the same time as they are being treated for high blood pressure. However, it’s important to consult your prescriber first.

Likewise, you should exercise caution before taking Viagra when you have been diagnosed with lower blood pressure, as the medication can cause a further drop in your blood pressure levels.

Finally, adopting healthy habits as part of your lifestyle – including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and reduced alcohol – can really help to get your blood pressure back to normal, and get you back to enjoying stronger erections.

References

  1. NHS -High blood pressure (hypertension): https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/causes/

  2. Harvard Health Publishing -Blood pressure drugs and ED: What you need to know: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/blood-pressure-drugs-and-ed-what-you-need-to-know

  3. NHS –TreatmentPulmonary hypertension: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pulmonary-hypertension/treatment/

  4. Imprialos, K.; Stavropoulos, K.; Petidis, K.; Manafis, A.; Bouloukou, S.; Lales, G.; Katsiki, N.; Patoulias, D.; Sachinidis, A.; Dimitriadis, K.; Tsioufis, K.; Grassos, H.; Pittaras, A.; Manolis, A.J.; Lovic, D.; Athyros, V.; Karagiannis, A.; Doumas, M. (2018). The Impact of Diuretics on Erectile Function in Patients With Arterial Hypertension: https://journals.lww.com/jhypertension/Abstract/2018/06001/THE_IMPACT_OF_DIURETICS_ON_ERECTILE_FUNCTION_IN.591.aspx

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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