Researchers say Viagra could possibly help the hearts of people affected by a common type of muscular dystrophy, U.S. News & World Report reported.

Canadian researchers gave the active ingredient of Viagra (sildenafil) to mice that suffered from Duchenne muscular dystrophy and found it improved their hearts' performance.

The researchers said it is premature to give Duchenne patients Viagra, but the results are indicative that the drug could prevent or delay heart failure in children with the disease.

Dr. Valerie A. Cwik, medical director and vice president of research at the Muscular Dystrophy Association, said there's a need for new approaches to the treatment of heart failure in patients with Duchenne and other forms of muscular dystrophy, according to the magazine.

"The findings presented by these authors are interesting and certainly have potential clinical implications for the various forms of dystrophinopathy [heart damage]," Cwik said.

Cwik said heart failure is a major cause of illness and death in late-stage Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Researchers gave the same dosage of Viagra to the mice as is given to men with erectile dysfunction.

The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Click here to read the study.

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