A study in Sweden has suggested that sildenafil, known by the brand name Viagra, has the capacity to reduce blood pressure, which is a potent risk factor for heart disease.
According to Healthline, the Swedish researchers used data from a British study that showed a significant mortality benefit of PDE-5 inhibitors, such as sildenafil or tadalafil, with men with Type 2 diabetes.
However, the results from that study had compared the treatments with men not taking ED drugs that may have led to confounding by indication.
The Swedish study included around 240,000 Swedish men who had all had experienced a heart attack, balloon dilation, or bypass surgery at least 6 months before beginning treatment for ED. Within the group were 20,000 men who had undergone coronary bypass surgery or percutaneous coronary intervention, and were also being treated for ED.
A large proportion of that group had been taking PDE-5 inhibitors, while the remainder, approximately 2,000, were taking Alprostadil, an ED treatment that involves an injection into the penis, a urethral suppository, or a topical cream.
Over the course of 15 years of follow-ups with the patients, 14 per cent of them succumbed to any cause in the PDE5 group, while 26 per cent died in the alprostadil group, noting a huge difference between both groups of men on the study.
The research also revealed that men on alprostadil had an increased risk of getting afflicted with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, and diabetes.
However, those on PDE5 showed much lower rates, up to half of the group population, of mortality of any cause, especially from cardiovascular diseases.
A cautious interpretation of the results of the study revealed that the differences between the two study groups’ baseline characteristics suggested that there are unnoticed differences that were not covered by the recorded statistics of the men, including body mass index or their smoking status.
The researchers gave their best effort with the data that was available, which showed some evidence of a dose-response effect, and it revealed that the male patients who had completed more PDE-5 inhibitor prescriptions had a much lower risk than those who did less.
There is additional credibility to the findings, with the fact that PDE-5 inhibitors had originally been developed to be an antihypertensive and anti-anginal treatment, and the now well-known side effects of the treatments turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
As such, having such PDE5 inhibitors would certainly give ED patients more than what they’ve asked for.
However, the Swedish study was purely observational, meaning the researchers couldn’t prove it was the drug causing health benefits, and experts now say further research is needed. The experts also said the heart benefit that was observed might be because PDE-5 inhibitors such as sildenafil reduce blood pressure, a strong risk factor for heart disease.
“PDE5i are known to cause a decrease in systemic blood pressure,” said Dr Michael Goyfman, director of clinical cardiology at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills
“And since high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it is theoretically possible that patients with PDE5i would have lower, or better controlled, blood pressures.”
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