Viagra/Cialis Users Cautioned to Minimize Risks Before Surgery

  • Mar 14, 2016

Patient Safety Awareness Week

For Immediate Release:  March 2016 
For more information Contact: AANA Public Relations 

Park Ridge, Illinois – Due to possible side effects from the nitric oxide in erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra and Cialis, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) takes this opportunity during Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 13-19, 2016, to recommend that patients not use these types of drugs for a full 24 hours prior to surgery.

Erectile dysfunction drugs, which use nitric oxide to open the blood vessels and relax the muscles, can cause a patient’s blood pressure to become dangerously low when combined with the effects of anesthesia and other drugs used during surgery. Though not found in anesthesia specifically, nitric oxide – not to be confused with nitrous oxide or "laughing gas" – may be present in the medication used to control a patient’s high blood pressure during an operation. The combination of the nitric oxide in these drugs with the use of anesthesia can mitigate the effectiveness of drugs used to raise low blood pressure and produce a host of short- and long-term side effects ranging from poor circulation to kidney and heart failure.

 “Patients should never feel embarrassed about telling their anesthesia professional that they use these products,” said Juan Quintana, DNP, MHS, CRNA, president of AANA. “Anesthesia professionals need to know this information to prepare the anesthesia plan, and to keep patients safe. As with all sensitive information, we honor the patient-provider trust.”

The AANA recommends the following patient guidelines: 

  • Inform your Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) or anesthesia professional about your use of Viagra or Cialis.
  • Inform your CRNA or other anesthesia professional about other prescription drugs and/or complementary and alternative medicines you are using, including dietary supplements, ginseng, and ginger.
  • Do not take Viagra or Cialis the day before surgery because it takes more than 24 hours for nitric oxide to clear the body’s system.