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Sildenafil and tadalafil are two of the most popular medications used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), but it seems that they may deliver other health benefits at the same time, with new research from Columbia University revealing that these drugs may deliver substantial cardiovascular benefits for men with both ED and concurrent heart disease.

Analysis of a health research database found that both forms of treatment reduced the likelihood of progression to heart failure, myocardial infarction and death after five years. However, tadalafil had a greater effect on all three of these medical events, MedPage Today reports.

Albert Ha of the Columbia University Irving Medical Center discussed the findings at the recent American Urological Association annual meeting, saying that there are around ten million men in the US that have ED and tadalafil and sildenafil are first-line treatments for many people.

ED has an association with heart disease because both conditions often involve circulatory issues, with Dr Ha saying: “Contrary to what most people believe, PDE5 inhibitors also have been shown to alter endothelial function and improve myocardial perfusion. 

“We know there is data out there suggesting that PDE5 inhibitors lead to cardiac benefits, including improved cardiac function and possibly microvascular improvement.”

As PDE5 inhibitors, these treatments work to treat ED by increasing blood flow to the penis temporarily.This medication has been found to be effective in around 70 per cent of men, although results will vary between individuals and treatment success may depend on the root cause of the problem.

Further research published at the start of the year in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men who took specific types of ED medication had a 25 per cent lower chance of dying prematurely than those men with ED who didn’t take the treatments.

According to Everyday Health, analysis of over 70,000 cases of ED revealed that those men prescribed sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil and other PDE5 inhibitors had a 39 per cent lower death rate due to heart disease, as well as 22 per cent lower death rate due to unstable angina.

Furthermore, they were also found to have a 17 per cent lower rate of heart failure, 15 per cent reduced rate for revascularisation procedures such as t, bypass surgery and angioplasty.

Lead author of the study Dr Robert Kloner from the Cardiovascular Research Institute at Huntington Medical Research Institutes in California said: “Across all these endpoints, those men with ED who were exposed to the PDE5 inhibitors showed significant associations with lower rates of many of these adverse events or trends in the right direction, suggesting a possible protective effect.”

However, the point was stressed that although this study does demonstrate a link between cardiovascular benefits and PDE5 inhibitors, the results do not prove that the drugs lead to an improvement in heart health. In order for a cause-and-effect relationship to be established, large-scale clinical trials would need to be carried out.

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