Viagra heart health

Viagra: Take It For Your Heart As Well As For, You Know, Other Stuff Says New Study

If men needed another reason to take Viagra, here it is. A new study says that the popular drug used to treat male erectile dysfunction has another, extremely important benefit — as a treatment for heart disease. That’s right. If the new research is accurate, not only does the active ingredient in Viagra help men avoid frustrating problems in the sack, it helps their hearts stay healthy.

The researchers say more data is needed before they can be sure Viagra would also be an effective heart treatment for women.

The Viagra study came out Sunday in the journal BMC Medicine and was conducted by researchers at Sapienza University in Rome, Italy.

“We found that the main ingredient in Viagra can be used as an effective, safe treatment for several patients with heart disease,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrea M. Isidori, “an endocrinologist at Sapienza University. “Large clinical trials are now urgently needed to build on these encouraging findings.”

So how does it work? The drug that makes Viagra effective in treating erectile dysfunction is called sildenafil citrate. What the drug does is block an enzyme that prevents smooth muscle tissue — that is, “involuntary” muscles that work independently of conscious brain commands — from relaxing.

Once the involuntary muscle relaxes, patients experience increased blood flow — which is why the drug works as a treatment for erection problems. But allowing freer blood flow also appears to prevent the heart from overworking, which can cause enlargement of heart muscles, leading to heart attacks and heart failure, which frequently results in death.

That effect not only treats the underlying cause of erectile failure, but also, the researchers found, prevents the heart muscle from unnaturally enlarging or thickening in men with a condition known as left ventricular hypertrophy.

The Viagra ingredient also worked in other cardiac patients — and best of all, the results showed few if any side effects, such as increased blood pressure.

The drug was administered in lower doses than found in Viagra, to more than 1,600 men, many of whom did not suffer from erectile dysfunction.

“Very few drugs used in cardiology can actually affect these parameters,” Isidori said. “For this reason their implications in the treatment and prevention of heart failure are huge.”

When Viagra first hit the market in the late 1990s, some reports suggested that the increased blood flow caused by the drug could actually cause the heart to speed up and lead to heart attack and death.

But those fears that Viagra could turn deadly proved largely unfounded.

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