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Viagra May Help Prevent and Treat Heart Disease and Failure

January 17th 2006

Viagra May Help Prevent and Treat Heart Disease and Failure


Viagra relieves stress on the heart caused by excess blood and force used to pump it in the body.  In a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute, the duress on the heart was cause adrenaline-like chemical.

Sildenafil citrate (Viagra) has widely been prescribed for erectile dysfunction.  Dr. David Kass, MD of John Hopkins found that Viagra may help treat and prevent heart failure due to stress.  Dr. Kass has found that “Sildenafil effectively puts a ‘brake’ on chemical stimulation of the heart.”

According Kass, Viagra blunts the strengthening heartbeat caused by chemically induced stress, thereby lessening the excess amount of blood and force used to pump it to the body. 


In this study 35 healthy men and women with an average age of 30 and no previous signs of coronary artery disease, were injected with dobutamine (5 micrograms per kilogram for five minutes), a synthetic, adrenaline-like chemical that increases heart rate and pumping strength.  The participants were injected twice in a three hour time frame. 

In between injections half of the group was given a sugar pill and the other half were given Viagra (100 milligrams taken orally).  Heart function measurements were taken before and after the injection, including blood pressure readings, electrocardiograms and echocardiograms, as well as blood samples to confirm relatively equal levels of sildenafil and other enzymes. 

The results indicate that each dobutamine injection stimulated heart function, increasing heart rate and the force of each heartbeat used to pump blood throughout the body.  “This stimulation is similar to the way the nervous system normally increases heart function when triggered by emotional or exercise stress, or in diseases such as heart failure,” Dr. Kass said.


The increased heartbeat was slowed by 50 percent in those that took Viagra, resulting in a smaller increase in blood flow and blood pressure generated by the heart in response to chemical stimulation.  The process is not understood completely, but Viagra is known to work by stopping the action of an enzyme, called phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5A). This enzyme is involved in the breakdown of a key molecule, cyclic GMP, which helps control stresses and limit overgrowth in the heart.  PDE5A is also the biological pathway blocked in the penis by sildenafil to promote the relaxation of blood vessels and maintain erections.  Viagra is also known to vasodilation the lungs.

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Peter Belfer Laboratory Foundation and the Bernard Family Foundation.  The makers of the drug had no involvement in the design or support of the research.


The study, conducted solely at Hopkins, was led by cardiologist Barry Borlaug, M.D.  Other researchers involved in this study were Vojtech Melenovsky M.D., Ph.D.; Tricia Marhin, R.N., B.S.N.; and Patricia Fitzgerald, R.N., B.S.N.  Kass is also the Abraham and Virginia Weiss Professor of Cardiology at Hopkins.

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By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

Books on Heart Disease

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:49 PM