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Erectile Dysfunction Drug Viagra May Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes In Patients At Risk

19 November 2015, 2:53 am EST By Alyssa Navarro Tech Times
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Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville reported that Viagra or sildenafil citrate, a drug that treats erectile dysfunction, may actually help in warding off Type 2 diabetes in individuals who are at risk for the disease.

The impotence drug was found to increase insulin sensitivity in individuals who are overweight and pre-diabetic, experts said. Insulin sensitivity measures the amount of insulin the body needs to control and stabilize levels of blood glucose.

In a report issued in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers tested how sildenafil citrate would affect insulin sensitivity and secretion without damaging the body's fibrinolytic function. The group examined 51 patients who were overweight and at risk for diabetes through a small-scale and randomized clinical trial.

In the randomized trial, the patients were assigned to take either an inactive placebo or 25 milligrams of sildenafil citrate thrice in a day all in the course of three months.

The patients' insulin sensitivity was measured through the use of hyperglycemic clamps before and after the treatment. Their urine samples were collected for inspection of creatinine and albumin. High levels of albumin would indicate the risk for heart and kidney disease, researchers said.

Experts found that the individuals in the sildenafil group had better levels of insulin sensitivity as well as lower albumin levels in their urine compared to those in the placebo group.

Dr. Nancy Brown, the study's lead researcher, explained that existing drug treatments for Type 2 diabetes have side effects to the heart and are used with limit in kidney disease patients. This is why new strategies that could prevent diabetes without harmfully affecting the heart and kidney could have a huge effect on public health.

"Sildenafil and related drugs could offer a potential avenue for addressing the rising number of diabetes diagnoses," said Brown.

The authors of the study said Viagra works by inhibiting an enzyme which breaks down a chemical called cGMP, a blood vessel relaxing substance in the body. Scientists are currently developing drugs that could boost this chemical.

Meanwhile, Brown said further studies will be needed to find out whether long-term treatment with drugs like sildenafil can prevent the onset of diabetes in high-risk patients.

Photo : Felix E. Guerrero | Flickr

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