Drugs Similar to Viagra May Help Combat Heart Disease

Heart disease researchers have recently completed some clinical trials on sheep which suggest that tadalafil, a drug normally prescribed for erectile dysfunction, may be able to combat heart failure. Tadalafil, marketed under the name Cialis, is similar in nature to sildenafil, the drug commonly known as Viagra, and has almost exclusively been used to help men experiencing erectile dysfunction. However, the properties of how the drug affects the human body means it may also be able to treat a specific type of heart disease.

The Epidemic of Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, making it one of medical science’s number one priorities. In the US alone, more than 600,000 people die annually of some form of heart disease, accounting for approximately 1 out of every 4 deaths in the entire country.

Worldwide, it’s estimated that some 24 million people’s lives are either ended or significantly impacted by heart disease. Heart disease has several common comorbidities, including diabetes, obesity and excessive alcohol consumption.

All in all, heart disease is one of the most prevalent ailments plaguing the population at large, and any developments in treating or eliminating it are met with excitement and anticipation.

Tadalafil and Heart Failure

Recent studies are showing that Tadalafil holds promise in treating heart failure, a specific type of heart disease. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart is no longer able to beat strongly enough to supply blood (and oxygen, through the blood) to all the parts of the body.

A person suffering from heart failure will often times deal with shortness of breath, coughing and fatigue. Even relatively simple activities like walking up a flight of stairs or carrying moderately light burdens become difficult if not impossible.

Heart failure usually cannot be cured, only treated with certain types of medications. Now, Tadalafil is showing the capability to manage heart failure.

Tadalafil’s Effect on the Body

The reason tadalafil is effective as an erectile dysfunction treatment drug is that it acts on an enzyme within the human body known as phosphodiesterase 5. Phosphodiesterase 5 is important in governing the way that tissues within the body react to and interact with certain hormones. Epinephrine is one of the hormones which tadalafil helps facilitate better response toward.

This is significant in treating heart failure because epinephrine is a hormone that helps the heart beat with more strength. Tadalafil’s ability to stimulate the body to respond to epinephrine means that the heart muscle regains some of its former power, meaning it’s able to pump blood to parts of the body not receiving it when suffering from heart failure.

Tadalafil Trials on Sheep

Previously, very limited research on human beings had shown a positive link between tadalafil and treating heart failure. Observing this, researchers with the University of Manchester began using sheep to more exhaustively study whether tadalafil could help with heart failure.

Sheep are a preferred choice for studying heart-related issues, as their hearts are constituted very similarly to human hearts. Researchers were able to induce heart failure symptoms via the use of pacemakers, and once sheep were in a range of heart failure which would be calling for treatment in a human, some were given doses of tadalafil similar to those being taken currently by erectile dysfunction sufferers.

Researchers observed that the sheep receiving tadalafil saw their heart function begin to rise toward their previous normal peaks. While these results have yet to be replicated in humans, the researchers are optimistic as to tadalafil’s effectiveness if used by humans.

Why the Tadalafil Breakthrough is Exciting

One of the major reasons this breakthrough research is exciting is because tadalafil is a known quantity as a drug compared with nearly any other drug in development. Normally, when developing a new drug to treat some medical ailment, there’s a great deal of caution and delay while trying to determine whether the drug causes any adverse reactions.

In the case of tadalafil, this drug has been prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction for more than a decade and a half. In that time, it’s been determined that tadalafil has nearly no serious side effects or adverse reactions, and can be taken concurrently with a number of other medications.

If tadalafil is proven to be effective in treating heart failure, medical science already has a huge head start in getting it approved and begin using it to combat heart failure.

It should be noted that at this time, people should not be self-prescribing or treating themselves for heart failure with tadalafil. While this early research is encouraging, more testing will have to be done, especially in studying tadalafil’s effect on humans suffering from heart failure.

It’s also worth pointing out that tadalafil is only theorized to be helpful in the case of heart failure, not in treating heart disease as a whole. For most other forms of heart disease, such as coronary artery disease or heart attacks, tadalafil doesn’t seem to present any benefits.

Coming Full Circle with Sildenafil and Tadalafil

If drugs like tadalafil and sildenafil turn out to be effective in treating heart-related ailments, it will provide an almost poetic full circle in the life cycle of these drugs.

That’s because researchers originally created sildenafil and tadalafil while attempting to combat high blood pressure and other circulatory problems. While conducting experiments with the drugs, they observed that sildenafil and similar compounds produced erections in test subjects.

This unexpected discovery led to the design and marketing of sildenafil and tadalafil as erectile dysfunction medications, and the drugs became incredibly prominent and widely-used.

If it turns out that these drugs do help sufferers of heart disease, and furthermore that their widespread use over the past decade plus speeds up the process by which they’re approved, it will be as though the drugs have returned to their long-ago intended origins at last.