Could Taking Viagra Save Men From Alzheimer's Disease?

·3 min read
A man holding a Viagra pill.
A man holding a Viagra pill.

According to a new study published in Nature Aging, regular use of the vasodilator drug sildenafil could dramatically reduce one’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Sildenafil, for those unaware, is the active ingredient in Viagra. It’s sometimes referred to as “generic Viagra” when capsuled by different brands like Bluechew, Hims and Roman. The research, conducted by a team of scientists at Cleveland Clinic, suggests that the “little blue pill” might have utility beyond lending men a hand in the bedroom — it could also ward off dementia as we age.

Dr Feixiong Cheng, an author of the study, says, “Sildenafil, which has been shown to significantly improve cognition and memory in preclinical models, presented as the best drug candidate. [The drug] may have neuroprotective effects and reduce levels of toxic tau proteins.” (Aka the sort of proteins that rattle around the brain killing neurons and driving disease progression.)

You might be wondering: What the hell does an ED pill have to do with cognitive function? Well, it all goes back to blood flow. Sildenafil is a master at improving circulation; it can ferry blood to the penis, the lungs (to combat high blood pressure) or in this case, the brain, by relaxing arteries and smooth muscle tissue. This encourages “neurite growth,” which helps the brain retain its grasp on memory and motor function

Before you start ordering Viagara tablets by the bottle, though, keep in mind that this is a clinical trial for early Alzheimer’s patients. The endgame here was extremely precise: assess how the drug impacts seniors who may be susceptible to AD. You shouldn’t start popping pills willy-nilly in hopes that you can take yourself out of the running for Alzheimer’s at a young age.

There may come a time where regular Viagra use is encouraged among aging men, but first, researchers need to establish definitive causation between sildenafil usage and reduced AD risk (right now they only have correlation) and second, there needs to be more public understanding about the functionality of the drug.

At the moment, thanks to commercials and movies, most men assume that popping a Viagra means an instant hard-on. But sildenafil only leads to an erection if you’re properly aroused in a sexual situation. Cost is another disconnect at the moment; branded Viagra has bet on itself, even as generic competition has materialized in the last 10 years, and pill prices have veered out of control. Consider: 30 tablets of Viagra now cost over $2,000.

Fortunately, generic sildenafil can range from under $1 to up to $10 per pill. If the next frontier for the pill is disease prevention and not just erectile dysfunction, you’d hope that the market’s biggest manufacturer can find a way to get its price down.

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The post Could Taking Viagra Save Men From Alzheimer’s Disease? appeared first on InsideHook.

The article Could Taking Viagra Save Men From Alzheimer's Disease? by Tanner Garrity was originally published on InsideHook.