New study reports that taking Viagra could lead to a longer life

By Alma Fabiani

Published Mar 25, 2021 at 09:45 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Taking Viagra could apparently do more than just benefit a man’s love life. A new study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden recommends the erectile dysfunction drug for men who have survived a heart attack. According to the study, men who have survived a heart attack could prolong their life by taking the drug—in fact, the more often they use it, the lower their risk of another attack.

Erectile dysfunction (also known as impotence) can be an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease in men. It can be treated either locally with alprostadil, which dilates the blood vessels so that the penis stiffens, or with what are called PDE5 inhibitors such as Viagra or Cialis tablets. The pills are taken before sex, and increase blood flow to the penis.

“Potency problems are common in older men and now our study also shows that PDE5 inhibitors may protect against heart attack and prolong life,” says study author Martin Holzmann in a statement published by SWNS. “The protection was dose-dependent, so that the more frequent the dose of PDE5 inhibitor, the lower the risk.”

PDE5 inhibitors such as Viagra and Cialis decrease blood pressure, which is why they were previously not recommended for men with coronary artery disease due to the risk of heart attack. But in 2017, Holzmann and his colleagues showed that men who have had a heart attack could actually tolerate the drug well and that it even prolongs life expectancy and protects against stroke and heart failure.

In their new study, the team compared the effect of alprostadil and PDE5 inhibitors in men with stable coronary artery disease. The patients had either a stroke, balloon dilation or a coronary artery bypass surgery at least six months before starting treatment for erectile dysfunction. According to Holzmann, “The risk of a new heart attack is greatest during the first six months, after which we consider the coronary artery disease to be stable.”

The study, which was conducted on 16,500 men treated with PDE5 inhibitors and just under 2,000 on alprostadil showed that men who received 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.

What does this prove, you ask? “This suggests that there’s a causal relationship, but a registry study can’t answer that question,” says Holzmann. “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.”

In other words, while it hasn’t yet been fully proved that Viagra could prolong the lives of men who suffered heart attacks, things are looking pretty bright for Holzmann’s study. Until a third research proves whether PDE5 inhibitors play a role in men’s health, Holzmann hopes that men with coronary artery disease do not shy away from addressing the matter with their doctor.

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