Viagra Can Improve Heart Conditions in Muscular Dystrophy Patients

A recent study showed that mice with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) were found to experience improved heart conditions when given Viagra. The results are sure to lead to further studies that further define how Viagra can help DMD patients.

About 1 in 3,500 males are affected by DMD, according to the National Institutes of Health, which helped fund the study. Patients who have the debilitating disease typically die before the age of 40, many from heart failure.

DMD is a genetic disorder that causes gradual muscle degeneration due to mutations in the X-linked dystrophin gene. Men are more likely to have the disorder because they have only one X chromosome, while women are more likely to have the healthy dystrophin gene because they have a “spare” copy of the X chromosome.

The study was performed by Joseph Beavoa of the University of Washington, along with colleagues from the University of North Carolina. The test subjects were mice that were genetically engineered to have similar heart conditions to humans who have DMD.

Beavoa and his fellow researchers are not sure exactly how Viagra worked to improve the function of the hearts in the mice, but he said the results were so positive that some mice actually experienced a reverse in heart deterioration.

In addition to treating erectile dysfunction in men, the chemical make-up of Viagra has been helpful in treating many other conditions. This is because sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Viagra, effectively improves blood flow to more areas than just the penis. For instance, sildenafil citrate is also marketed by Viagra manufacturer Pfizer as a drug called Revatio, which treats pulmonary hypertension.

Although the researchers agreed that Viagra would not cure DMD, current research suggests that it “could be used in combination with current or future therapies.” A write-up of the study can be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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