Viagra for Alzheimer's disease

Using Viagra could reduce risk of Alzheimer's, study suggests

Drugs which are used to treat erectile dysfunction, like Viagra, could be key to preventing Alzheimer’s disease according to new research from University College London (UCL).

After a five-year study of almost 270,000 men with erectile dysfunction, researchers found those prescribed drugs known as PDE5Is were 18% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to those who did not.

“Being able to repurpose drugs already licensed for other health conditions could help accelerate progress…”

Alzheimer’s Research UK says the correlation of reduced risk scaled with the number of prescriptions, although researchers highlight they did not have data on whether people actually used the drugs.

Dr Leah Mursaleen, the charity’s head of research, said: “Developing drugs for diseases like Alzheimer’s is a costly process and can take many years.

“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.”

Researchers are now hoping to keep momentum going and conduct more research to validate their findings, with a focus on whether erectile dysfunction drugs can help prevent dementia-causing conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

“More research is needed to confirm these findings…”

Drugs like Viagra were first developed to combat high blood pressure and work by dilating blood vessels to increase blood flow.

UCL’s Ruth Brauer, PhD, added: “More research is needed to confirm these findings, learn more about the potential benefits and mechanisms of these drugs and look into the optimal dosage.”

The researchers want to conduct a trial with women, as well as investigations into more diverse populations to see if their findings could help them too.

The study was published in the journal Neurology.

Image credit: iStock

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