Drug for Erectile Dysfunction could Reverse Heart Failure

Recent shocking research reveals that drugs which doctors used to prescribe for erectile dysfunction can likewise also be used for treating heart failure. An individual who has heart failure fails to pump the blood efficiently throughout his body. As a result, the vital organs fail to get the necessary amount of blood for their proper functioning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observed that 5.7 million people of the United States have heart failure and approximately half of this population dies within the first 5 years of their diagnosis.

Furthermore, study that Cardiac Failure Review published in 2017 contended that there is a “worldwide pandemic” of heart failure, with this condition influencing an expected 26 million individuals around the world.

Such high estimation made researchers realize that there is an urgent need to find new effective treatment solution for this condition.

Recently, Prof. Andrew Trafford directed a group of specialists from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom who found that a drug that specialists ordinarily use to treat erectile dysfunction could likewise treat systolic heart failure, in which the heart’s left ventricle loses the capacity to contract as compared to of a normal person.

The research paper “Phosphodiesterase 5 inhibition improves contractile function and restores transverse tubule loss and catecholamine responsiveness in heart failure” carried out in sheep is published in the journal Scientific Reports on 1st May 2019.

Tadalafil brings positive results

Prof. Trafford and group chose to concentrate on tadalafil, which is accessible under the brand name Cialis among others. This drug falls under a similar classification as sildenafil, which individuals ordinarily refer it by the brand name Viagra.

“We do have limited evidence from human trials and epidemiological studies that show tadalafil can be effective in treating heart failure,” Prof. Trafford says.

The analysts contemplated the impacts of the drug in sheep, as sheep’s heart is almost similar to that of a human being. The group treated the sheep with tadalafil once they started showing heart failure side effects that were not strong enough to require urgent treatment.

Prof. Trafford and partners instigated heart failure in the animals using a pacemaker, and when they treated them with tadalafil, they gave them dosages reliable with what a human patient would usually get for erectile dysfunction.

After only 3 weeks of tadalafil treatment, the analysts started to observe the positive result in those animals who were receiving the treatment.

The drug improved the functional ability of the heart and its contraction. Moreover, its response to the hormone epinephrine improved. It is due to a less efficient response to this hormone that results in shortness of breath in heart failure.

The researchers up till now have only tested the drug in sheep; however, Prof. Trafford says that human will probably encounter similar advantages.

“This study provides further confirmation, adds mechanistic details, and demonstrates that tadalafil could now be a possible therapy for heart failure,” the researcher notes, adding, “It’s entirely possible that some patients taking it for erectile dysfunction have also unwittingly enjoyed a protective effect on their heart.”

The need for more efficient treatments

The question which must be lingering on your mind is that actually why this drug has such an impact on heart failure? The researchers clarify that tadalafil helps treat erectile dysfunction by following up on a specific enzyme called phosphodiesterase 5. This enzyme plays a key job in deciding how various types of tissue communicate with hormones, including epinephrine.

On account of heart failure, the research group notes, tadalafil makes the heart start responding to epinephrine once again, which implies that the heart muscle recaptures its capability to siphon out blood adequately.

These discoveries are promising on the grounds that, as Prof. Trafford says, tadalafil “is a widely used and very safe drug with minimal side effects,” however still the researchers warn them against self-prescription.

“[W]e would not advise the public to treat themselves with the drug, and [they] should always [speak] to their doctor if they have any concerns or questions,” Prof. Trafford accentuates.

He aware people saying, “Tadalafil is only suitable as a treatment for systolic heart failure — when the heart is not able to pump properly — and there may be interactions with other drugs patients are taking.”

Prof. Metin Avkiran, who is an Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, and also a funder of the investigation believes that these discoveries may prompt a much better treatment which will not only reduce the symptoms of heart failure but will also reverse the condition completely.

“We need safe and effective new treatments for heart failure […]. The evidence from this study — that a Viagra-like drug could reverse heart failure — should encourage further research in humans to determine if such drugs may help to save and improve lives,” said Prof. Metin Avkiran.

Prof. Avkiran observed, “Viagra-type drugs were initially developed as potential treatments for heart disease before they were found to have unexpected benefits in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.”

“We seem to have gone full circle,” he continues, “with findings from recent studies suggesting that they may be effective in the treatment of some forms of heart disease — in this case, heart failure.”

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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