Do BPH Medications Affect Your Risk of Heart Failure?

Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) is a common condition. It happens to older men.

The male prostate is the only gland for males who needs it to make male sperm and grow with age. If it grows too much, it can block the urethra, which means that there is no way for urine to escape the bladder.

This can lead to kidney failure and other problems.

Medical Treatment for BPH

The typical medical treatment for BPH is either pharmaceutical drugs or a surgery called a TURP. Recent studies suggest that the common medications used in the Western world for treating BPH increase the risk of multiple coronary conditions, such as heart failure, congestive heart failure, chronic heart failure, and other heart conditions, as well as high blood pressure, all of which can increase the risk of other cardiac events. 

A TURP is a procedure performed in a hospital or out-patient facility. Its purpose is to surgically remove excess prostate tissue that may be hindering smooth urination. It uses a cutting tool passed through the penis. It has numerous consequences and side effects, including surgical risks. 

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Medications to Treat BPH

The most common medications used to treat BPH in the US today are alpha-blockers, such as tamsulosin (Flomax) or terazosin (Hytrin), and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, such as dutasteride (Avodart) or finasteride (Proscar), which are supposed to help shrink the prostate.

Many doctors use a long-term combination of both types of medication to help relieve symptoms. Alpha-blockers relax muscles around the bladder neck and in the prostate, making urination easier. They also help lower blood pressure. 

5-alpha reductase inhibitors block the conversion of testosterone to DHT and Estradiol, leading to inhibition of prostatic growth and lower prostate volume. 

Both drug types are used to ease symptoms of an enlarged prostate. But BPH medication comes with many unwanted side effects such as abnormal ejaculation and syncope

In addition, recent research has linked both classes of these drugs to cardiac issues and an increased risk of heart failure.

Do BPH Medications Affect Your Risk of Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a summation of several conditions involving the heart. It can include chronic heart failure and congestive heart failure, as well as numerous other heart irregularities that are not as heavily covered in the media as the above two.

For years, there have been warnings that BPH medications alter the basic function of the male prostate. The alterations of the gland are often permanent and remain after the medication is discontinued.

The pharmaceutical community and the medical community tend to deny these reports. But, recent studies suggest that problems are far more serious than previously reported. Recent studies indicate that medication-induced heart problems may be widespread and are under-reported. 

A study in The Journal of Urology found a link between widely used medications for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH or enlarged prostate) and a small but significant increase in the probability of developing heart failure.  

Other BPH Medication Side Effects

Multiple past studies have conclusively shown that the drugs commonly used to treat BPH cause other prostate changes. 

Such changes are both cumulative and permanent. A few of these are common and listed below:

  • Retrograde ejaculation –  A condition whereby ejaculation results in semen being forced back into the bladder instead of coming out of the penis. 

  • Anorgasmia – Inability to have an orgasm, regardless of stimulation. Finasteride, especially when combined with antidepressants, is particularly likely to cause this dysfunction.

Considering that the side effects of BPH medication have now been shown to have damaging effects on the heart and that several of these medications have been linked to new-onset chronic heart failure, it is amazing that any man with BPH will voluntarily agree to use various medications for BPH instead of natural herbal remedies that have been well-studied and used successfully for many years. 

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Natural Treatments for BPH

Most of today’s medical doctors are well equipped to handle life-threatening conditions. However, they are often poorly trained to handle the less urgent, chronic problems that occur with increasing regularity in today’s world. And, they are virtually untrained in correcting the nutritional deficiencies that cause many of these chronic conditions.

Many natural remedies may help BPH symptoms without increasing the risk of heart failure or associated heart issues. 

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens) 

Traditionally and worldwide, saw palmetto has been the choice of natural practitioners for treatment for BPH. It is a well-studied herb with proven value for BPH and may help reduce tumor size in prostate cancer. It has also shown value in treating erectile dysfunction. 

Saw palmetto has been shown to mediate the enzyme that converts testosterone to other, more damaging elements. This enzyme is partially responsible for initiating the growth of the prostate. The medicinal part of the plant is its small bluish-purple berries. 

Stinging Nettle Root (Urtica dioica) 

This herb has a long history of therapeutic use for many different health issues. It is especially well-known for helping relieve symptoms of BPH. 

Both the root and the leaves of the plant are used medicinally. Studies have shown that nettle by itself is not quite as effective as saw palmetto or pygeum in treating BPH, though it is usually combined with both for its synergistic effect. 

Pumpkin Seeds and Oil 

There are many processes in the body involved in repairing DNA that require zinc to function properly. The prostate has the highest zinc concentration of any organ in the body, and a zinc deficiency affects it significantly. Most men with BPH also have a zinc deficiency.

Pumpkin seeds, in particular, are a good source of zinc. As with most nutrients, older adults need more zinc than younger ones. While it is best to get adequate amounts of zinc from food, this is not always possible.

Rye Grass pollen 

For many years, extracts of flower pollen have been used in Europe to treat BPH. Flower pollen is a concentrated, allergen-free extract of the male seeds of ryegrass and various other flowering plants. 

Several studies have shown significant statistical improvements in urinary flow, intermittent voiding, dribbling, the number of times one wakes up at night to urinate (nocturia), and urinary retention. 

Conclusion

According to recently published population studies, common medications that have been used for many years in routine care of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) are associated with an increased risk of cardiac failure. 

The conclusion of the report cited above is quoted below:

“In routine care, men with a benign prostatic hyperplasia diagnosis and exposed to both 5-alpha reductase inhibitor and alpha-blocker therapy had an increased association with cardiac failure, with the highest risk for men exposed to non-selective alpha-blockers.” 

Dietary issues can also have a significant impact on prostate health. Changes to ones′ diet can help resolve BPH before it becomes bothersome. 

Next Up

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Read our guide on the Best Supplements for an Enlarged Prostate.

Sources

  1. Lusty A, Siemens DR, Tohidi M, Whitehead M, Tranmer J, Nickel JC. Cardiac Failure Associated with Medical Therapy of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Population Based Study. J Urol. 2021 May;205(5):1430-1437. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33616451/
  2. Fagelman E, Lowe FC. Saw Palmetto Berry as a Treatment for BPH. Rev Urol. 2001;3(3):134–138. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1476047/

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