Viagra could help men with coronary artery disease live longer, study suggests

Researchers with the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden conducted the study

Men who have stable coronary artery disease who also take Viagra may live longer and also have a decreased risk of having a new heart attack compared to those who suffer from the disease but do not take the erectile dysfunction drug, according to the findings of a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 

Researchers with the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden compared the effects of different ED drugs in men with stable coronary artery diease. All participants had experienced a heart attack, undergone balloon dilation (a cardiac catheterization procedure), or had undergone bypass surgery in the six months before they began treatment for ED. 

Collecting data from patient, drug and cause of death registries, the researchers looked at 16,500 men who were treated with PDE5 inhibitors, such as Viagra or Cialis, while just under 2,000 of the participants received alprostadil, an injectable drug used to treat ED. 

By the end, the researchers found that men treated with PDE5 inhibitors lived longer and had a lower risk of new heart attack, heart failure, balloon dilation and bypass surgery than those who received alprostadil. 

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"The protection was dose-dependent, so that the more frequent the dose of PDE5 inhibitor, the lower the risk," notes a news release on the findings. 

"Potency problems are common in older men and now our study also shows that PDE5 inhibitors may protect against heart attack and prolong life," said Dr. Martin Holzmann, an adjunct professor in the Department of Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet who led the study, in a statement. 

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Researchers hypothesized that the results may be because some ED drugs like Viagra lower blood pressure, as high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease. That said, Holzmann noted that the study was observational and that more research is needed on the topic. 

"This suggests that there’s a causal relationship, but a registry study can’t answer that question," Holzmann said in a statement. "It is possible that those who received PDE5 inhibitors were healthier than those on alprostadil and therefore had a lower risk. To ascertain whether it is the drug that reduces the risk, we would need to randomly assign patients to two groups, one that takes PDE5 and one that doesn’t. The results we have now give us very good reason to embark on such a study."