Forget about erectile issues, viagra can also possibly help prevent dementia

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Viagra, commonly known for treating erectile dysfunction, may also help prevent dementia by boosting blood flow to the brain. A recent study suggests that this well-known medication might reduce the risk of developing vascular dementia, providing hope for those at risk of this debilitating condition.

The unexpected benefits of viagra

Originally designed to treat angina, Viagra gained fame in the late 1990s for its effectiveness in treating erectile dysfunction. However, its influence extends beyond its initial purpose. Researchers have been exploring its potential benefits for various health issues, including chronic pain, cancer, depression, and now, vascular dementia.

A study published in Circulation Research tested the effects of sildenafil, Viagra’s active ingredient, on blood vessels in the brain.

Participants took the drug for three weeks, and researchers observed positive changes in their brain’s blood vessels. The study, known as the OxHARP trial, lays the groundwork for future clinical trials to investigate Viagra’s potential in reducing dementia risk.

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Understanding vascular dementia

Vascular dementia is the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. It occurs due to impaired blood flow or damaged blood vessels in the brain, often following a stroke. This type of dementia accounts for 15 – 20% of dementia cases in North America and Europe.

viagra dementia
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Dr José Morales, a vascular neurologist at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, explains that while there are treatments to manage symptoms and slow disease progression, there is no cure. Therefore, identifying and mitigating risk factors is crucial. One such risk factor is cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD), which involves chronic damage to the brain’s small blood vessels, often due to prolonged high blood pressure.

How viagra may help

The OxHARP trial involved 75 participants with neurological signs of CSVD. Each participant received three-week regimens of sildenafil, a placebo, and cilostazol (a treatment for vascular diseases), with a one-week washout period between each regimen. This crossover trial design is powerful because it allows each participant to act as their own control, requiring fewer participants to achieve significant results.

Researchers focused on four key measures: cerebral pulsatility, cerebrovascular reactivity, cerebrovascular resistance, and cerebral blood flow. They found that while sildenafil did not improve cerebral pulsatility compared to the placebo, it significantly improved cerebrovascular reactivity, resistance, and blood flow.

Compared to cilostazol, sildenafil performed similarly but with fewer side effects, such as diarrhoea. These findings suggest that sildenafil has the potential to improve blood flow dynamics in the brain, making it a promising candidate for preventing the progression of CSVD and, by extension, vascular dementia.

A hopeful future

Dr Rakesh C. Kukreja, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, explains that sildenafil works by inhibiting the enzyme phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5), which breaks down a molecule that promotes blood vessel relaxation. By preventing this breakdown, sildenafil enhances blood flow and reduces vascular resistance, potentially influencing dementia risk.

Supporting this hypothesis, previous rodent studies have shown that Viagra can improve cognitive ability and memory. Additionally, a study involving 7.23 million individuals found that Viagra usage was linked to a 69% reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Forget about erectile issues, viagra can also possibly help prevent dementia | News by Thaiger
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Looking ahead

While these findings are promising, more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of Viagra on dementia risk. Future studies will need to follow participants over extended periods to see if improved blood flow translates to a reduced risk of dementia. Dr Alastair Webb, a consultant neurologist at Imperial College London and one of the study’s authors, emphasises the importance of further research to find the best dose and drug from this group to take forward.

In the meantime, lifestyle factors such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption remain crucial in reducing the risk of dementia. These measures, alongside potential medical interventions like Viagra, could offer a multifaceted approach to combating this challenging condition.

Viagra’s potential to help prevent dementia represents a significant step forward in understanding and mitigating this condition’s risks. As research continues, this familiar drug may soon play a new role in promoting brain health and preventing dementia, offering hope to millions worldwide.

Warning! This article is merely for news purposes and does not constitute any kind of medical advice. Do not attempt to self-prescribe or consume Viagra without consulting a physician as Viagra can also cause serious medical issues and even fatal outcomes in certain individuals with underlying issues.

HealthThailand News

Dr. Nikhil Prasad

Dr. Nikhil Prasad is an independent researcher, medical, pharma and health PR consultant, herbalists and phytochemical specialists and a medical and health writer for numerous international publications and sites including his own sites such as Thailand Medical News. He is based either at Sydney, New York, Shanghai, Mumbai or Bangkok.

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