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Viagra-like Erectile Dysfunction Drug May Be Effective For Heart Failure Treatment

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An erectile dysfunction drug that's similar to Viagra may potentially be effective in reversing and treating chemical damage from heart failure, a new report revealed.

In a new study, a team of researchers from the United Kingdom tested out the life-saving effects of erectile dysfunction drug Tadalafil on several sheep that are at risk of heart failure.

Currently, available treatment options for heart failure patients are scant and limited. While the findings of the research are preliminary, it offers hope for a new and efficient treatment option that's widely used and has minimal side effects.

Viagra-like Drug Effective For Heart Failure Treatment

Heart failure is a serious medical condition that has caused approximately 15.2 million deaths in 2016, according to the World Health Organization. When the muscles of the heart are no longer strong enough to pump blood through the body, the heart can give out either in a sudden or chronic heart failure.

Now, in the new study, Professor Andrew Trafford and his colleagues from the University of Manchester demonstrated that Tadalafil may be an efficient treatment for heart failure.

Tadalafil works by targeting an enzyme called Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5S), which is responsible for how tissue responds to hormones such as adrenaline. Heart failure begins with the inability of the heart to respond to adrenaline. It is a cascade of increasingly damaging chemical reactions.

Trafford and his team found that blocking PDE5S changed this cascade and restored the heart's ability to interact with adrenaline. The drug can tighten the heart muscles and as a result, make them pump more effectively.

The research team tested out the drug on sheep fitted with pacemakers, which were used to induce heart failure. The animals were then pumped full of the drug. After a period, the early symptoms of heart failure went into reverse.

Sheep Study Will Be Replicated In A Human Trial

Trafford explained in an article that there are strong similarities between the heart of sheep and humans in the way they work and respond. Because of this, he expressed optimism that the findings of the study could be replicated in a human trial.

"Indeed, clinical trials using Tadalafil in patients with heart failure are a next step in the process of adding Tadalafil to our toolkit to treat patients with heart failure," Trafford said. "We hope to be able to begin these in the near future."

While the findings of the study are promising, Trafford also cautioned against people taking Tadalafil without the guidance of a doctor, and at least until more research has been done.

Metin Avkiran of the British Heart Foundation said the study is a case of history repeating itself. He said drugs such as Viagra and Tadalafil were initially developed as potential treatments for heart failure until researchers found that they were effective in treating erectile dysfunction.

"We seem to have gone full-circle, with findings from recent studies suggesting that they may be effective in the treatment of some forms of heart disease — in this case, heart failure," Avkiran said.

Trafford added that it is entirely possible that erectile dysfunction patients who have taken Tadalafil have "enjoyed a protective effect" of their heart.

Meanwhile, details of the study have been issued in the journal Scientific Reports.

Photo: Stock Catalog | Flickr

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