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Viagra not just for erectile dysfunction, blue pill might protect your heart, says experts

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American drug-maker Pfizer's wonder pill Viagra has helped many men with erectile dysfunction. Experts have now found that the blue pill also has the ability to protect the heart against several diseases at various stages.

Researchers at the Sapienza University of Rome explain that phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor (PDE5i) is the key ingredient in the blue pill and other medicines that are used to treat erectile problems. PDE5i blocks the PDE5 enzyme that stops relaxation of the smooth muscle tissue.

Previous studies have established the existence of PDE5 in the heart and scientists are trying to understand if it can treat non-urological disorders. However, the prior studies have mainly been grounded on animals, which make the cardioprotective effects of the chemical on human heart unclear.

Researchers of the latest study suggest that PDE5i can assist to prevent changes to the size and shape of the heart and at the same time improve the overall health of the heart. The findings are based on the meta-analysis of 24 trials that included more than 1,600 patients suffering from various types of heart diseases.

PDE5i is also believed to have improved the overall performance of the heart without exhibiting any major side effects. Scientists suggest that the benefits of PDE5i to overcome heart problems are mainly seen if taken on a regular basis over a long period of time. However, the recommended dose for heart patients is much lower than compared to patients suffering from erectile dysfunction.

"We found that the main ingredient in Viagra can be used as an effective, safe treatment for several patients with heart disease. Large clinical trials are now urgently needed to build on these encouraging findings," says Andrea Isidori, lead author of the latest study.

The researchers suggest that men usually focus on erectile dysfunction than heart problems; however, it is very important for men to monitor the health of their heart as well.

The authors of the study believe that PDE5i can be administered on men suffering from the thickening of the heart muscle and heart failure at early stage.

The study samples were all men. The researchers highlight that they will conduct a bigger trial that will also include men, which will help them understand the responses of the chemical on both the genders.

The study has been published in the journal BMC Medicine.

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