Viagra found to offer boost for heart disease patients

viagraMore commonly known for its prowess in the bedroom, male impotence drug Viagra should also be routinely prescribed as a safe treatment for heart disease according to the researchers involved in a new study.

A team of scientists from Sapienza University in Rome, Italy, analysed 24 studies comprising of 1,622 men, and published the findings in the journal BMC Medicine.

The found that sildenafil – the active ingredient in Viagra – boosted the performance of the heart in patients with various heart conditions, whilst having no detrimental impact on blood pressure.

Sildenafil is known as a Phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor (PDE5i), which works to block the enzyme PDE5, was found to prevent the heart enlarging and changing shape in those patients with ventricular hypertrophy. This condition causes thickening of muscles in the left ventricle and can lead to heart failure.

Lead researcher of the study, Andrea Isidori, now wants the drug to be used in clinical trials consisting of women that have heart disease, arguing that Viagra should be prescribed for heart conditions if more trials correlate with his findings.

He said: “We found that the main ingredient in Viagra can be used as an effective, safe treatment for several patients with heart disease. Large clinical trials are now urgently needed to build on these encouraging findings.”

Maureen Talbot, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Often in medicine, drugs which are used to treat one ailment can have side effects that make it an effective treatment for other conditions.

“Viagra is already a prime example of this. But this study suggests it has the potential to be put to another use – treating early stage heart failure and cardiac hypertrophy.

“But we shouldn’t get too excited too quickly. Large randomised controlled trials are needed on both men and women to support this study’s findings before it could be recommended to heart patients.”

Sildenafil is already marketed under the name Revatio for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension, and the benefits of Viagra for heart disease patients should perhaps not come as a huge surprise. Sildenafil was originally developed as an option for the treatment hypertension and angina pectoris, and the ability to induce erections was noted later. Because of the latter finding, Viagra’s manufacturer Pfizer subsequently decided to market Viagra for treating erectile dysfunction instead of angina. The rest as they say, is history!

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