Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and similar medications used to treat erectile dysfunction, by increasing blood flow to the penis may not be entirely bad after all. This is after a study saying the erectile dysfunction pill is not only good for your sex life — it’s good for your heart. According to Futurism, the study out of the Huntington Medical Research Institute in Pasadena, California has found what appears to be a link between taking ED meds like Viagra and Cialis and lower rates of heart problems, including heart disease and death from a heart attack.
Known as Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) Inhibitors or PDE-5i medications, this class of drug generally used to manage erectile dysfunction has in the past been accused of leading to high blood pressure — but in the past 20 years, studies have suggested that they can both improve heart health and help with diabetes and cancer, too.
Looking at a large insurance and Medicare database and drawing from prior research about ED drugs’ potentially cardioprotective effects, the HMRI team, along with researchers from the University of California San Francisco, found that compared to their ED-having counterparts who didn’t take medication for it, men who take PDE-5i drugs for their advertised purpose seemed to experience a 17 percent lower rate of heart failure, a 15 percent lower need for angioplasty or heart stints, and a whopping 39 percent lower rate of death from heart disease-related complications.
What’s more, the researchers also observed a “25 [percent] lower rate of death due to any cause” among men who take ED drugs than those who don’t take them, a press release about the study notes. Drawing from anonymized patient records in an American private insurance and Medicare claims database, the researchers looked at a huge cohort of information gleaned from 2006 until 2020 — and of those claims viewed in retrospect, the researchers found that the greatest benefits seemed to be found in men who had heightened risk for cardiovascular problems, including those with diabetes. Part of the explanation, of course, may be related to the fact that sex itself appears to be correlated with a longer life expectancy.
As with most data-based retrospective studies of this kind, the paper’s authors cautioned against declaring a direct correlation or cause between taking PDE-5i’s and lowering one’s risk for heart problems and advised further study on the subject. They also noted that they can’t name the exact nature of this link until more research is done on it. All the same, this research is nevertheless extremely promising — and, if nothing else, could reduce the stigma against taking ED medication.