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Viagra may be linked to reduced Alzheimer’s risk

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Drug such as Viagra that are used to treat erectile dysfunction may also be associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

These drugs work by dilating blood vessels to allow more blood to flow through and were first developed to treat high blood pressure.

The new research does not prove that erectile dysfunction drugs reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It only show that there is an association.

UCL researcher, Dr Ruth Brauer, said: “These results are encouraging and warrant further research.”

“Although we’re making progress with the new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease that work to clear amyloid plaques in the brain for people with early stages of the disease, we desperately need treatments that can prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study included 269,725 male participants with an average age of 59 who were newly diagnosed with erectile dysfunction.

The participants did not have any memory or thinking problems at the start of the study.

Participants were then followed for an average of five years.

The study compared the 55 per cent of the participants who had prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs to the 45 per cent who did not have prescriptions.

During the study, a total of 1,119 people developed Alzheimer’s disease.

Among the study participants taking erectile dysfunction drugs, 749 developed Alzheimer’s disease, which corresponds to a rate of 8.1 cases per 10,000 person-years.

Among those who did not take the drugs, 370 developed Alzheimer’s disease, which corresponding to a rate of 9.7 cases per 10,000 person-years.

After  researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect the rate of Alzheimer’s disease, such as age, smoking status and alcohol consumption, they found that people who took erectile dysfunction drugs were 18 per cent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than people who did not take the drugs.

The association was strongest in participants who were issued the most prescriptions over the study period.

Brauser said: “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.

“A randomised, controlled trial with both male and female participants is warranted to determine whether these findings would apply to women as well.”

 

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