A Beating Heart and the Little Blue Pill

2009-01-09 | |
Last updated: 2009-01-09

It seems that that very highly marketed, little blue pill that we have all heard of has a number of tricks up its sleeve. While the pill is most famous for improving bedroom exploits, Viagra and similar drugs are showing their vigor in ongoing heart research.

In 2003, Virginia Commonwealth University found that the drug increased nitric oxide levels in the heart and that this protected mice from the damage caused by heart attack.

In 2007, the same university subsequently found that both Viagra and another bedroom enhancer, Levitra, or generically vardenafil were more effective than existing drugs for reducing the damage caused before and after severe heart attacks. They found in animals that nitroglycerin, a drug used for heart problems since at least 1870, does not prevent damage after a heart attack. However, these erectile dysfunction drugs do lessen the damage.

Now in 2009, the findings are that sildenafil can work with existing proteins produced by the body to prevent heart expansion or hypertophy in mice with high blood pressure. Additional benefits observed were reduced production of stress-induced enzymes and stronger heart contraction in general.

All in all, it seems that these drugs are very beneficial for heart health both preventatively and after a heart attack as far as the animal studies are concerned. It will be interesting to see if these drugs start to lose a bit of their sensationalism and become “more serious” in providing greater benefits to our health.

After all, sildenafil wasn’t originally developed simply to put a smile on the lips of ‘old people’. It was developed as a heart drug before its interesting side effect was noticed.




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