Can Viagra Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease? What We Know

  • A new study has found that people who took Viagra may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Experts emphasize that more studies are needed to verify the results.
  • Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

An erectile dysfunction drug, which is also used to treat high blood pressure, has already been shown promise to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Now, new research adds to the evidence that this well-known drug could help reduce the risk of developing the degenerative disease.

“After searching [the] In the literature, we found multiple animal studies showing the potential effects of sildenafil treatment in various preclinical models of AD, “lead investigator Feixiong Cheng, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic Institute of Genomic Medicine, told Healthline.

Cheng and his team analyzed data from more than 7 million people to find that sildenafil (Viagra) significantly reduced the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the researchers, their findings, recently published in the journal Nature Aging, they suggest that it could soon be prescribed to combat dementia.

The study used insurance data, a large gene mapping network, and integrated genetic and other information to discover which of the roughly 1,600 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were effective against Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers focused on drugs that target two proteins considered markers of Alzheimer’s disease, amyloid and tau, compared to drugs that only target one of them.

According to Cheng, many drug discovery projects targeting only any of the proteins have failed in the past 20 years.

But for this project, they tested a new theory that “double targeting” of both amyloid and tau at the same time may provide better clinical benefits for people with Alzheimer’s.

He explained that Alzheimer’s disease is a “complex disease caused by many factors,” and multi-target drugs or combination therapy to target more than one disease pathway could offer greater benefits in treating the disease.

“By testing this new hypothesis, we identified sildenafil as a potential treatment for AD,” Cheng said.

After a 6-year follow-up, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that people who took sildenafil were 69 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who did not take the drug.

To further examine the drug’s potential to treat Alzheimer’s disease, Cheng and his team created a laboratory model that showed the protein tau targeting sildenafil and increased brain cell growth, revealing how the drug might work against it. degenerative illness.

It is important to note that the study did not find that sildenafil actually reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It was only associated with him. Cheng admitted that there are limiting factors that indicate the need for further research.

“Although we adjusted for many confounders in our patient data analysis based on our considerable efforts, there may be potential confounders due to our limited clinical knowledge of this complex disease,” he said.

Cheng stressed that the findings must be confirmed in clinical trials before sildenafil can be used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are working hard to do an RCT (randomized control trial) in the next step,” Cheng said.

“This study looks at data from a large number of people, but there are several important limitations to consider,” said Professor Tara Spiers-Jones, DPhil, deputy director of the Brain Sciences Discovery Center at the University of Edinburgh, in a statement.

According to Spiers-Jones, the study data comes from insurance claims, is not very detailed, and does not include information on other important risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, such as gender, risk genes and socioeconomic status.

Spiers-Jones noted that there are other possible explanations for these findings.

“For example, we know that brain changes begin decades before dementia symptoms. [show] and it’s possible that these early Alzheimer’s changes reduce sexual desire, so people wouldn’t ask for a prescription for erectile dysfunction, “he explained.

Aducanumab (Aduhelm) is a drug recently approved by the FDA to treat Alzheimer’s disease. So far, it is the only drug approved for this purpose.

Was granted expedited FDA approval. This program allows advance approval of drugs to treat serious conditions and meet an “unmet medical need” based on a marker, such as a laboratory measurement, physical sign, or other measure that can predict clinical benefit.

“Aducanumab is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Winston Chiong, a member of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Ethics, Law and Humanities Committee, told the Psychiatric Times.

“This is a high-cost drug that was approved by the FDA with no convincing evidence of benefits and with known harms,” ​​he noted.

According to the Weill Institute for Neurosciences, about 40 percent of people who receive aducanumab experience a brain inflammation called amyloid-related imaging abnormalities (ARIA).

The condition involves brain bleeding, brain swelling, or both.

“Nearly 10 percent of those who use the drug are likely to have their treatment stopped due to ARIA-related concerns,” according to the institute.

A study published in June 2020 found that following at least 4 out of 5 healthy lifestyle behaviors could reduce the risk of dementia by 60 percent.

The behaviors were:

  • be physically active
  • No Smoking
  • consuming light to moderate amounts of alcohol
  • eating a high-quality diet
  • be mentally active

The plant-based Mediterranean Intervention Diet-DASH for Neurodegenerative Retardation (MIND) is the high-quality diet recommended by the researchers.

“This observational study provides further evidence on how a combination of modifiable behaviors can mitigate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” Dr. Richard J. Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, said in a statement.

A new study finds that sildenafil, a drug approved by the FDA to treat high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction, can reduce the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 69 percent.

Experts say the study had serious limitations and only shows an association with a reduced risk.

They also say that simple lifestyle changes, like not smoking and staying physically active, could significantly reduce the risk of dementia.

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