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Viagra may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s

a doctor holding up a packet of Viagra

Here’s some news that will make you stand up to attention, Viagra could lower the risk of developing Alzheimers disease.

Studies show men who are prescribed the erectile dysfunction drug are less likely to be diagnosed with the most common form of dementia.

Research found males who take 21 to 50 prescriptions of Viagra have a 44% lower chance living with the illness.

It is too early to tell if the drug protects men from Alzheimer’s or if the men who participated in the study were less prone to developing dementia.

Lead author Dr Ruth Brauer at University College London told The Guardian: “We can’t say that the drugs are responsible, but this does give us food for thought on how we move into the future.

 “We now need a proper clinical trial to look at the effects of these drugs on Alzheimer’s in women as well as men.”

Medical records from over 260,000 men living with erectile dysfunction were analysed by Brauer and her team, in each case none showed signs of thinking or memory problems over a course of five years.

Around 50% were on PDE5 inhibitor drugs, including sildenafil [sold as Viagra], avanafil, tadalafil and vardenafil.

When first released on the market Viagra’s sole purpose was to treat angina and high blood pressure, but after a group of miners from Wales took part in a trial they discovered they kept having erections in the evening.

PDE5 calms the veins and arteries, which allows blood to flow more easily. Studies in animals show this also improves the blood’s journey in the brain, which could, in theory, stop the formation of Alzheimer’s.

It’s still not certain if this is correct, but if the drug can prevent Alzheimer’s scientists say there is no reason why women can’t take Viagra as well.

Dr Ivan Koychev, a senior clinical researcher at the University of Oxford, said: “This is a significant development, as repurposing existing drugs for the prevention of dementia is a promising strategy to stop dementia from developing in the first place.”

Although he added it would be extremely difficult to run a placebo-controlled trial.

Dr Leah Mursaleen, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Being able to repurpose drugs already licensed for other health conditions could help accelerate progress and open up new avenues to prevent or treat dementia-causing diseases.”

But not everyone is convinced, Dr Madhav Thambisetty, a senior investigator at the US National Institute of Aging, where in 2021 concluded there was no protective effect of Viagra, questioned if additional factors, such as how well a person controls their diabetes or how much interrupted sleep they have, had been taken into account.

He went on to question if a drug such as sildenafil, which is only used in men with erectile dysfunction, could lead to a chronic, progressive neurodegenerative disease.

“While sildenafil is known to reach the brain from blood, can its levels in the brain be maintained at high enough concentrations over a sustained period of time that may be required to alter the trajectory of Alzheimer’s disease?” he said.

“This is an important question to consider for drugs like sildenafil that are only used ‘as needed’ in comparison to drugs that are used every day or multiple times a day over a prolonged period of time.”

[ Viagra can make flowers stand up straight. ]

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