Men who take Viagra, Cialis or Levitra and other drugs of the same class for erectile dysfunction experience lower rates of heart failure and death due to heart disease compared to other men, according to a study by scientists from Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI) in Pasadena, HealthCore Inc., and the University of California San Francisco.
The study was presented at scientific meetings of the American Heart Association in Reston, Virginia on Friday, May 13.
The scientists analyzed health records of more than 70,000 men with erectile dysfunction and compared rates of major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) like strokes, and death among men who took PDE-5i (phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor) drugs – including Viagra, Cialis and Levitra – to rates among men who never took these drugs.
“We initially looked at this study as a cardiovascular safety study, but we were surprised to see the association between the use of these drugs and the significant beneficial effects on cardiovascular outcomes,” Dr. Robert A. Kloner, chief science officer and scientific director of cardiovascular research at HMRI, Pasadena said. “These drugs may have cardioprotective effects that could eventually go beyond their current uses.”
Dr. Kloner is the principal investigator in the study.
“Our research represents the first time the effect of PDE-5i drugs on cardiovascular health has been explored in a large population of relatively low-risk men with ED in the United States,” Dr. Julia E. Bradsher, President and CEO of HMRI and the team’s co-investigator, added. “The number of patients involved gives us a great deal of confidence in the results.”
Among the men who took PDE-5i medications for erectile dysfunction, Kloner’s study identified a 39-percent reduction in death due to heart disease, a 22-percent reduction in unstable angina, a 17-percent reduction in heart failure, a 15-percent reduction in the need for revascularization procedures such as angioplasty, stenting and bypass surgery; a 13-percent reduction in major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), and a 25-percent reduction in death due to any cause.
The study also found that men who had received more of a PDE-5i medication experienced greater reductions in MACE, including a 55-percent reduction among those with the highest amount of tablets dispensed versus those with the lowest amount.
Kloner and his co-investigators drew anonymized patient records from a large U.S. commercial and Medicare insurance claims database. The study, funded by a grant from Sanofi, examined records over approximately 14 years.
Other members of the study team include Eric Stanek, Christopher L. Crowe, Mukul Singhal, and Rebecca S. Pepe of Healthcore Inc., and Raymond Rosen of University of California San Francisco.
Kloner said further research is needed to prove that PDE-5i drugs caused the observed reduction in cardiovascular events. But if PDE-5i drugs are proven to cause these effects,he said they could provide new therapies that would help prevent a number of adverse cardiovascular conditions, including heart failure and death related to coronary artery disease.
“Another focus of our research is the study of new therapies to reduce the size of heart attack or reduce heart failure after a heart attack,” Kloner said. “Such therapies have the potential to save thousands of lives.”