Viagra in Great Focus Again

It is astonishing to read that Viagra – which was developed to give an extra thrust to male sexual performance – is now recommended by the medical profession to ward off the risk of heart death for men with diabetes.

New research suggests that taking a Viagra pill every few months almost halves the risk of men with Type 2 diabetes dying of heart problems. The study of 6,000 British men could pave the way for erectile dysfunction pills to be prescribed regularly for men with diabetes.

Nearly 4 million people in the UK suffer with Type 2 diabetes and 12 million more are at risk of developing the disease. People with the condition are at twice the risk of others of developing heart disease. This is partly because the heart of diabetics becomes less efficient over time, unable to contract properly and pump blood all around the body.

Experts think Viagra and other similar erectile dysfunction drugs improve this function. The drug, which has earned pharmaceutical firms more than £1 billion a year since it was launched as an erectile drug in 1998, works by relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow to the groin. This function also affects the ability of the heart to pump blood, scientists think.

Experts at Manchester and Oxford universities have now shown that this has a remarkable impact on health. The team studied the health records of 5,965 men with Type 2 diabetes, aged between 40 and 89. Of that group 1,359 took erectile dysfunction drugs called PDES inhibitors, of which Viagra is one form. They took the drugs only an average of 16 times over the seven year study period – less than once every five months but they were 46% less likely to die during the study period, the scientists found.

Patients taking the drug were also 38% less likely to suffer a heart attack and those who did were 40% less likely to die as a result. The scientists, whose results are published in the BMJ journal Heart, adjusted the figures for age, blood pressure, prior heart problems and other medication use.

Professor Andrew Trafford of Manchester University said: ‘Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease so treatment that could resist that risk is urgently needed.’

‘Erectile dysfunction treatments like Viagra are already licensed for use so if trials provide further evidence of a life-saving benefit it might be possible to start treating people with this drug in the not too distant future.’

He stresses that Viagra would not work for all male heart patients but if further trials confirm his results, he expects that it could be prescribed for many diabetics. It is not licensed for use by women but in theory it might help female diabetics, although further trials would be needed to show it is safe for them.

Professor Jeremy Pearson of the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, said: ‘Viagra was originally being developed as a cardiovascular treatment in the UK. Researchers were looking at its use in people with high blood pressure and angina so it’s promising to see that we may have rediscovered its potential in fighting heart disease.’

This is excellent news for people with Type 2 diabetes for two reasons: it will certainly boost their blood flow to keep the heart in good nick and will enable them to revive their sexual desires which lay dormant but not necessarily extinguished.

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