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Viagra May Reduce Alzheimer's Risk

Imagine waking up one day and finding it difficult to make a list of things you need to get done for the day. You forget your appointments. You find it hard to do things you could normally do with ease. Unfortunately, this is a reality for people with Alzheimer’s disease, and more seriously, with dementia. 

Since there is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s, people who have this disease sadly live with the inevitable truth that they will slowly lose their memory. People have researched for years to figure out a “cure” for Alzheimer’s, and nothing has been found to stop it. However, research has yielded some encouraging results, including a potential way to reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s. 

 

What Is Viagra?

Viagra is a treatment for erectile dysfunction and some forms of high blood pressure. It was first created as a heart drug treatment to dilate blood vessels. The first users of Viagra found that it was helpful in improving erectile dysfunction, which is also a blood pressure issue. As a result, it’s commonly used in treating erectile dysfunction. Viagra has also been used to treat pulmonary hypertension in both men and women. Viagra can also assist in treating vascular dementia, another blood issue caused by reduced blood flow to the brain.

 

Viagra Reduces the Risk for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that slowly decreases brain function and causes memory loss. It isn’t easy to find cures or treatments to reduce these effects. However, there have been a few recent breakthroughs, including a study of over 7 million American Viagra users which found about 69% had a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s. However, researchers caution that although research has noted an association between Viagra and a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s, there is no direct causal link between the two. Therefore, clinical trials are necessary to determine how effective Viagra is. 

 

Testing How Effective Viagra Is

There is limited information on why Viagra is associated with a risk reduction for Alzheimer’s. Still, Dr. Feixiong Cheng, a Cleveland Clinic researcher, plans to conduct tests directly focusing on a potential link between the two. Cheng’s study began by screening over 1,600 drugs by the FDA. The team studied drugs that target beta-amyloid and tau, which are two proteins found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. The team determined that Viagra best targeted these proteins. The study also determined that many of the tested drugs and vaccines were not as effective as Viagra. 

Research suggests that various factors cause Alzheimer’s, including genetics and environment. As a result, researchers developed a model that considers these factors. When testing the use of sildenafil in Viagra users over a period of six years, the researchers noticed the risk of Alzheimer’s was reduced. Researchers wanted to be sure that sildenafil was worth testing further, so they tested it on nerve cells that came from Alzheimer’s patients. The result was a growth of nerve projections and decreased tau accumulation.

Some preliminary clinical studies and laboratory tests have begun in order to determine how effective Viagra is in reducing Alzheimer’s symptoms. So far, the tests have provided positive results, and sildenafil is a potential option for treating Alzheimer’s. 

Researchers hope to come up, in the near future, with an answer that will help provide people the opportunity to lead healthier and fuller lives without the fear of Alzheimer’s. Once the clinical trials provide a clear understanding of how Viagra affects the proteins in the brain, it will be easier to determine whether or not there is a direct correlation in risk reduction for Alzheimer’s. 

 

A Parting Reminder

Even though understanding the link between Viagra and Alzheimer’s disease is still unclear, there is hope even through association. Viagra has already had positive laboratory tests, and even some preliminary research has shown its effects on beta-amyloid and tau. The outcome is optimistic, and perhaps someday, Alzheimer’s will be cured.

Adreana Mendez
Adreana Mendez