Viagra May Reduce Risk of Early Death in Men, Study Suggests

A large study indicates that Viagra and other medications for erectile dysfunction may reduce the risk of cardiovascular-related deaths and overall mortality in men.

The study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine examined data from about 70,000 men with erectile dysfunction (ED). Researchers compared the health outcomes of those taking type 5 inhibitors PDE-5is, such as Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil), to those who did not take medications to treat erectile malfunction.

The research found that men who took ED medications had a 13% lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events. Taking medications or erectile dysfunction also reduced the risk of cardiovascular-related deaths by 39% and the risk of dying of any cause by 25%.

Research, however, could not prove cause and effect. Men with ED capable of taking these medications and engaging in sexual activity “may be healthier to begin with,” and that may contribute to their health outcomes. In addition, the study only focused on ED medications obtained through insurance.

Viagra was originally tested to treat angina pectoris, a chest pain associated with coronary heart disease. When researchers noticed that the medication improves the erection, they shifted their focus to treating ED.

A small study from 2013 found that Viagra’s active ingredient, sildenafil, significantly relieves painful menstrual cramps in women ages 18 to 35 when taken vaginally. More research, however, is necessary.

Researchers previously looked at whether type 5 inhibitors Viagra and Cialis could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. The latest study from the National Institutes of Health did not find evidence that those taking ED medications are less likely to develop the condition.

Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Viagra in 1998, hundreds of thousands of men have taken medicine to improve their sexual performance. Nearly 3 million prescriptions were written out in 2020 alone.

Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man can’t get or keep an erection firm enough for sex. As many as 30 million men in the U.S., primarily middle-aged and older, have the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


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