Viagra to be used for patients with heart disease

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Researchers have stated that a daily Viagra dose could be a safe heart disease treatment as it improves blood flow.

The drug is normally used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, but it was found that it prevented changes to the heart linked with disease.

As the drug is already available and is known to be safe, researchers believe that it could be used immediately, however, larger trials should be done.

A research team based at Sapienza University, Rome, undertook analysis of animal studies involving Viagra and used 1622 people suffering with heart disease in their research.

Andrea Isidori, the lead author of the study, said they found that Viagra’s main ingredient can be utilised as a safe, effective method of treatment for several patients suffering with heart disease. She said it is now a matter of urgency to undertake large clinical trials to build on their findings.

The results of the study have been published in the journal BioMed Central Medicine.

The main ingredient in Viagra and other drugs used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction is Phosphodiesterate-5 inhibitor (PDE5i). The inhibitor aids in blocking the PDE5 enzyme, which stops relaxation of smooth muscle tissue.

The analysis indicates that PDE5i prevented the size increase and left ventricle hypertrophy, which is a condition that causes the muscles in the left ventricle to thicken. It was also found to improve heart performance in all the patients suffering with various heart conditions, but showed no signs of side effects, such as raised blood pressure.

The study concluded that the inhibitor could be administered to males suffering with thickening of the heart muscle and heart failure in its early stages, which causes the heart to beat with diminished force.

A senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, Maureen Talbot, said that in medicine it is often found that drugs used for the treatment of one ailment may have side effects which make it effective for use in treating other conditions.
She said Viagra falls into this category as this particular study suggests that it can be used for treating cardiac hypertrophy and early stage heart failure.

She added that people should not become too excited about this right now as large randomised controlled trials are required on both males and females to support the findings of the study before the drug can be recommended for heart patients.

Image Credit: Felix E. Guerrero

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