Viagra and similar medications may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Viagra and similar medications may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

One of the world’s most popular drug classes may have another trick up its sleeve. In a new study, scientists in the United Kingdom found that erectile dysfunction drugs such as sildenafil (widely known as Viagra) are associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia. The team says the results do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, but are worthy of clinical trials that could confirm a real benefit.

Sildenafil and similar medications are called phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, or PDE5Is. By inhibiting PDE5, these drugs can open blood vessels in certain parts of the body, especially the penis. For this reason, although sildenafil was originally developed to treat high blood pressure and chest pain, it was found to be particularly effective in relieving erectile dysfunction. And thus the little blue pill was born.

While these medications are synonymous with ED, they are taken for other indications as well. Many of them are approved to treat pulmonary hypertension, or high blood pressure in the lung arteries. Scientists have studied it for other medical uses in both Humans And the animals.

However, the most interesting possibility of these drugs may be in their ability to combat Alzheimer’s disease. In 2021, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health is found There is in vitro and real-world evidence that sildenafil can prevent or significantly delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults — perhaps reducing people’s relative risks by up to 69% compared to not taking the drug, based on insurance claims data. However, less than a year later, a study appeared in October 2022 conducted by a separate team (also funded by the National Institutes of Health) that looked at Medicare data. Failed to find it Any link between a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s and sildenafil.

The conflicting results were enough to catch the attention of Ruth Brower, an epidemiologist at University College London, and her team. So they decided to investigate themselves, using medical record data collected through the U.K.’s National Health Service, data that gave them an advantage over previous studies, according to Brouwer.

“UK healthcare data can often be followed for a very long time, longer than US insurance data. That’s because most of our data is collected by general practitioners or primary care doctors, and they often have patients in their care for decades,” she explained. The second unique thing about the UK healthcare data is that we have a lot of lifestyle variables in our data set, which can influence the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Things like smoking or body mass index, but also information about socioeconomic status.

Brauer’s team analyzed data from 269,725 older males (average age 59) who were newly diagnosed with erectile dysfunction and were given a prescription for a PDE5I or not. They then tracked the results of these two groups for an average of five years.

By the end of the study period, 1,119 people had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. But those who took PDE5I were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not, about 18% less likely after adjusting for other potentially important factors. This reduction in risk was clearly seen only with sildenafil and not with other PDE5Is, but the discrepancy may be due to there being fewer users of these drugs rather than any biological difference, Brauer said.

The team’s findings, published Wednesday, in the journal Neuroscience, suggest a more modest benefit from these drugs than the 2021 study. But Brauer’s team was somewhat surprised to find no barrier at all, given that they used a similar method to the 2022 study. She said the different results could be explained by Through the longer follow-up data her team has, she certainly believes the research could point to something real.

She said: “It is exciting to find this protective effect, and in a study that tried to carefully control all variables that may affect the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

There are still important questions to be answered about this link, including exactly how these drugs might work to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease. Because they are known to relax blood vessels, they can improve blood flow in the brain enough to have a neuroprotective effect, Brauer said. Based on animal data, they may also indirectly boost levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter important for cognition that is steadily depleted in people with Alzheimer’s disease (many Alzheimer’s medications help manage symptoms by slowing this decline, but they can’t stop it).

Importantly, neither Brauer’s study nor any other study to date provides conclusive evidence that PDE5I can stop Alzheimer’s disease. But given the urgent need for drugs that can prevent or even slow this devastating condition, the authors say these drugs deserve a closer and expanded look from other researchers.

“The best thing, of course, would be to investigate this association through a randomized control trial,” she said. Ideally, she adds, this trial would study both men and women diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. They will be randomized to either receive PDE5I in conjunction with standard Alzheimer’s treatment or standard treatment plus placebo, and then track their cognitive outcomes over time.

“We believe that such a trial will provide a comprehensive understanding of the potential therapeutic benefits of these PDE5I inhibitors,” she said.

(Tags for translation)Viagra

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *