ED drugs may reduce Alzheimer’s risk

Alzheimer's disease risk and erectile dysfunction drugs.

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New research from Minneapolis suggests that drugs for erectile dysfunction might lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Published in Neurology®, the study highlights a potential connection. However, it’s important to note that the study only shows an association and doesn’t confirm a direct link. Erectile dysfunction drugs, originally designed to treat high blood pressure, appear to have this potential benefit due to their ability to widen blood vessels and increase blood flow.

Study author Ruth Brauer, PhD, of the University College London in the United Kingdom, said, “Although we’re making progress with the new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease that work to clear amyloid plaques in the brain for people with early stages of the disease, we desperately need treatments that can prevent or delay the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”

The study followed 269,725 men, averaging 59 years old, recently diagnosed with erectile dysfunction and without memory issues. Over five years, researchers compared those with (55%) and without (45%) erectile dysfunction drug prescriptions. Of the total, 1,119 developed Alzheimer’s disease. Among drug users, 749 developed Alzheimer’s (8.1 cases per 10,000 person-years), and among non-users, 370 did (9.7 cases per 10,000 person-years).

After considering factors like age, smoking, and alcohol use, researchers found that individuals taking erectile dysfunction drugs had an 18% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to non-users. This link was most pronounced in those who received the most prescriptions during the study.

Brauer said, “More research is needed to confirm these findings, learn more about these drugs’ potential benefits and mechanisms, and look into the optimal dosage. A randomized, controlled trial with male and female participants is warranted to determine whether these findings would also apply to women.”

The study suggests a potential link between the use of erectile dysfunction drugs and a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings and understand the underlying mechanisms. If validated, this association could have significant implications for both erectile dysfunction treatment and Alzheimer’s disease prevention strategies.

Journal reference:

  1. Matthew Adesuyan, Yogini H. Jani et al., Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitors in Men With Erectile Dysfunction and the Risk of Alzheimer Disease. Neurology. DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000209131.

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