Describe The Flow Of Blood Through The Heart And Vessels Viagra is Good for the Heart

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Viagra is Good for the Heart

Viagra (Sildenafil citrate), which millions of men take for erectile dysfunction (ED), reduces the effects of hormonal stress on the heart by half, according to a study published online in the journal Circulation.

Viagra causes blood vessels in the penis to dilate, which helps maintain an erection. Recent research has also indicated a potential benefit in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension. Before the latest results from a group of Johns Hopkins researchers, it was thought to have little effect on the heart.

Viagra, or sildenafil, slows down the heart rate and causes chemical stress, according to the study’s senior author and cardiologist David Kass, MD, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Heart Institute. It then reduces both the excess amount of blood and the force used to pump it around the body.

“Sildenafil effectively puts a ‘brake’ on the heart’s chemical stimulation,” Kass said.

It prevents and reverses the effects of High BP

These results are believed to be the first human confirmation that Viagra has a direct effect on the heart. In previous research, Kass and his team observed a similar effect in mice; Sildenafil blocked the short-term effects of hormonal stress on the heart.

Studies related to the group show that sildenafil also prevents and reverses the long-term effects of chronic high blood pressure on the heart.

Sildenafil reversed the negative effects of heart muscle weakness and enlargement – a condition known as hypertrophy – in mouse experiments conducted by Kass and his team earlier this year. They reported their findings in the journal Nature Medicine.

“But we don’t have definitive evidence about whether or how this treatment might work in the human heart,” Kass said. “The latest research provides strong evidence that this drug actually has an important effect on the heart.”

The increase in heart rate is slowed

Thirty-five healthy men and women, with an average age of 30 and no previous symptoms of coronary artery disease, participated in the six-month study at Johns Hopkins. Within three hours, each participant received two separate injections of dobutamine (5 micrograms per kilogram over five minutes), a synthetic, adrenaline-like chemical that increases heart rate and pumping power.

Between injections, study participants were randomly assigned to a group treated with sildenafil (100 milligrams orally) or a group given a sugar pill placebo. All participants were then given a second injection of dobutamine to see the effect of sildenafil or placebo on the heart.

Cardiac function measurements were performed before and after each injection. These included blood pressure readings, electrocardiograms and echocardiograms. Blood tests confirmed equal levels of sildenafil and other enzymes.

Each injection of dobutamine stimulated the work of the heart, increasing the heart rate and the strength of each heart beat used to pump blood throughout the body, the results showed.

“This stimulation is similar to the way the nervous system normally increases heart function when stimulated by emotional stress or exercise, or diseases such as heart failure,” Kass said.

After the first injection of dobutamine, heart pain intensity increased by 150 percent in both groups. In the placebo group, this increase was repeated after the second injection. However, in the group treated with sildenafil, the increased heart rate decreased by 50 percent, resulting in a small increase in blood flow and blood pressure caused by the heart responding to chemical stimulation.

Between injections, cardiac function was not altered in the sildenafil group, indicating the absence of adverse effects on the resting human heart.

Inhibition of PDE5A Action

“Knowing more about the effect of sildenafil on heart function will allow for a safe evaluation of its use in the treatment of heart problems,” said Kass.

“Our results set the stage for further studies on the immediate and long-term effects of sildenafil on the heart and its ability to modulate other neurohormonal stimuli and stress, including adrenaline and hypertension,” he added.

While the exact biological actions of sildenafil on the heart are not fully understood, the drug is known to work by inhibiting the action of an enzyme, known as phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5A), Kass explained. These enzymes are involved in the breakdown of an important molecule, the GMP cycle, which helps to control stress and limit the growth of the heart.

PDE5A is also the biological pathway that sildenafil blocks in the penis to prevent blood vessel relaxation and thus maintain an erection.

Copyright 2005 Daily News Central

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