Friday, February 24, 2006

Statins and impotence: Going beyond Viagra

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine say preliminary results of a small study show promise in improving erectile dysfunction (ED) in men who had shown minimal reaction to Viagra.

"It's already known that there is a connection between erectile dysfunction and coronary disease. The risk factors are the same for both, and thus, ED can be a marker for coronary disease," explains the lead author.

"Normal erections are caused when nitric oxide is made, but with endothelial dysfunction, the body doesn't make enough of it, causing the erectile dysfunction. Normally, Viagra prevents the breakdown of the little nitric oxide that is there, so that there is enough of it for an erection to occur." However, about 10-30 % of men are classified as "Viagra non-responders" - in these men, Viagra did not significantly help their erectile dysfunction.

Patients with ED took Lipitor or a placebo. They were rechallenged with Viagra and asked if the ED had improved. "There did seem to be some improvement for those who received Lipitor versus the placebo. We theorized that if you could make the edothelium healthier through the use of statins -- so that there is more nitric oxide available -- you would improve the endothelial dysfunction and Viagra would work better for the patient."

"These preliminary results show promise. They support the hypothesis that erectile dysfunction may be one sign of a generalized vascular disorder characterized by endothelial dysfunction and that statin drugs may improve the endothelial dysfunction, even before altering the lipid profile

Past studies have shown that statins improve endothelial dysfunction in other arteries, including the aorta, an important location for the development of plaque that can break away and cause a stroke.

Maybe statins should be in the water supply. At least partners of the 10-30% probably think so.

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